America’s coronavirus crisis has cost the government more than $3 trillion — so far — to say nothing of the costs to the rest of the economy. Was most or all of this avoidable? Inevitably, like everything else in American political life, the evaluation of America’s coronavirus response has become thoroughly politicized. If you believe in states’ rights to open up their economies, you must be a Republican. If you believe in states’ rights to shut them down, you must be a Democrat. The golden mean is hard to find.
Yet the not-so-golden mean is where the country has landed. The United States has experienced roughly the same number of coronavirus cases and deaths as western Europe, a region of the world that closely matches the US in wealth, health, population, and disease-fighting capacity. Some European countries have done better: Germany and the tiny Scandinavian countries of Denmark and Norway stand out. Some larger countries, like France, Spain, Italy, and the United Kingdom have done much worse.
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