Today the US hit a very grim milestone: 250,000 dead from Covid.
With just 25 dead in New Zealand, this must seem an astounding figure. And it is. Japan has less than 2000 Covid dead. Our neighbour Canada just over 11,000. The UK, worst in Europe, is about 52,000. Although the UK and a few other countries are even worse when you count deaths per capita, when it comes to absolute casualties, we're America First by a mile.
With our world class medical science, medical schools and a US Centres for Disease Control (CDC) that literally pioneered the field, it took special incompetence and neglect to let so many die here.
This is, I believe, clearly President Donald Trump's doing. He's in charge. But it would be unfair not to mention what Trump did right: Big bailouts to business and small ones to citizens helped economically. And his operation Warp Speed programme seems ready to deliver highly effective vaccines next year in record time.
But in the meantime, a chaotic mixture of bungling, anti-masking, lack of testing, no national policy, crazy talk and outright lies has left 250,000 Americans dead. With more than 1000 now dying daily, the University of Washington here predicts the terrible toll may reach about 440,000 before the vaccines kick in.
A Columbia University study argues as many as 210,000 of those deaths could have been prevented by more prudent measures. Like New Zealand did.
This is how you kill 250,000 Americans.
• December 31, 2019: The WHO reports a mysterious new disease has appeared in Wuhan, China.
• January 3, 2020: The CIA and the CDC warn Trump in his daily briefing that a deadly new disease is on the loose in Wuhan. They may have been tracking the disease since late November. Trump takes no action.
• January 16: The CDC begins screening some passengers arriving from Wuhan at some US airports, but Trump declines to ban China air travel and takes no other action.
• January 21: First US case detected in the Seattle area. Trump takes no action.
• January 23: After much cover-up, China admits there is indeed a new and lethal epidemic, now known as Covid. It very publicly closes Wuhan and much of surrounding Hubei Province, forcibly quarantining about 60 million people. It earlier sent the virus genome data to the west. Trump takes no action.
• January 29: Trump adviser Peter Navarro writes his boss a long and prescient memo warning the new disease is likely to become a global pandemic of staggering proportions. Trump allows the creation of a White House Coronavirus Task Force.
• February 2: Trump bans some but not all travel from China to the US. Unlike New Zealand's ban, the measure is full of holes. It doesn't apply to returning US residents, it doesn't apply to Macau or Hong Kong and it won't take full effect for weeks. There are 11 other exceptions that render the ban almost useless. Later studies show most Covid cases here actually came from Europe.
• February 6: First Covid death in the US.
• February 8: Trump privately tells author Bob Woodward that Covid is a "killer" five times worse than the worst flu. Trump publicly says its no worse than the flu.
• February 24: Trump tweets that the virus "is very much under control" and the stock market is "starting to look very good to me!" A Seattle lab detects the first case of community spread.
• February 26: Trump says America's 15 cases were going to dwindle to almost "zero."
• February 28: Trump calls the Covid crisis the Democrats' "new hoax" at a South Carolina campaign rally. US Covid dead: 3.
• March 11: Trump finally declares a travel ban with Europe, where cases have been soaring for weeks. But it's full of exceptions, like his earlier China ban. Dow plummets on Covid fears. US dead: 28.
• March 13: Trump finally declares a national emergency. US dead: 40.
• March 17: During a news conference, Trump asks "everyone to work at home, if possible, postpone unnecessary travel, and limit social gatherings to no more than 10 people". That same day, Trump states he has "always known this is... real, this is a pandemic. I've felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic". Epidemiologists later calculate a lockdown just one week earlier would have saved 36,000 American lives. US dead: 85.
• March 27: The $2.2 trillion Cares Act provides huge funding for business, less for local government and hospitals, and $1200 for each American. US dead: 2300.
• April 17: Apparently fearing political and economic damage, Trump decides to end lockdowns and reopen the US against expert medical advice. He tweets "LIBERATE MICHIGAN!" Also, Liberate Minnesota and Virginia. Armed right-wing militias invade various state legislatures to protest masking and disrupt their Covid response. One Michigan group is later arrested for plotting to kidnap and execute the governor. US dead: 38,600.
• April 24: During a regular Covid briefing, Trump suggests an "injection" of disinfectant into Covid patients as a possible treatment. He also suggests using UV light internally to kill the virus. He had previously touted the controversial malaria drug chloroquine as a cure. The drug is proven ineffective and sometimes dangerous in later studies. US dead: 54,300.
• May 15: Trump announces Operation Warp Speed, which budgets $10 billion to fast-track Covid vaccine development. US dead: 90,500.
• August 1: New Trump Covid adviser Dr Scott Atlas begins work in August. A radiologist with zero experience in epidemiology or virology, Atlas champions the discredited theory of achieving "herd immunity" by intentional infection. He opposes masking. Trump hires Atlas after seeing him on Fox News and sidelines many of the real experts here, including our famous Dr Anthony Fauci. US dead: 155,200.
• October 2: Trump hospitalised with Covid. US dead: 209,000.
• October 21: A Columbia University study estimates 130,000 to 210,000 American Covid deaths could have been avoided by more effective and prudent measures. US dead: 222,600.
• October 24: "That's all I hear about now: Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid," Trump declares at a North Carolina campaign rally. "By the way, on November 4, you won't hear about it anymore." US dead: 225,400.
• November 4: Trump loses US election, which he still refuses to concede. US dead: 234,700.
• November 9: Pfizer announces impressive 90 per cent success rate for its Covid vaccine. Moderna, an Operation Warp Speed member company, announces 94.5 per cent effectiveness for their vaccine a week later. US dead: 239,200.
• November 15: Dr Atlas calls on Michigan residents to "rise up" against masking and other Covid measures there even as cases soar. "The only way this stops is if people rise up," Atlas tweets. US dead: 246,200.
Data sources: Johns Hopkins University, European CDC, Our World in Data.
• Dick Brass was vice-president of Microsoft and Oracle for almost two decades. His firm Dictronics developed the first modern dictionary-based spellcheck and he was an editor at the Daily News, NY.