A Yale epidemiologist pulled no punches with his searing assessment of the United States’ botched handling of the coronavirus pandemic, suggesting it is now “getting awfully close to genocide by default.”
“How many people will die this summer, before Election Day?” tweeted Gregg Gonsalves, co-director of Yale’s Global Health Justice Partnership, on Wednesday morning, the day after President Donald Trump said the White House’s coronavirus task force would be wound down despite case numbers still rising. (Trump, however, tweeted later Wednesday morning that the group “will continue on indefinitely with its focus on SAFETY & OPENING UP OUR COUNTRY AGAIN.”)
“What proportion of the deaths will be among African-Americans, Latinos, other people of color?” asked Gonsalves. “This is getting awfully close to genocide by default. What else do you call mass death by public policy?”
In later tweets, Gonsalves confirmed he was serious with his suggestion.
“What is happening in the US is purposeful, considered negligence, omission, failure to act by our leaders,” he wrote. “Can they be held responsible under international law?”
“So, what does it mean to let thousands die by negligence, omission, failure to act, in a legal sense under international law?” Gonsalves added.
COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, has now killed upwards of 72,000 people in the U.S. There are more than 1.2 million confirmed cases nationwide, more than any other country in the world.
On Sunday, Trump said up to 100,000 people could eventually die from the virus. A week earlier, he said there would be up to 60,000 fatalities.
A draft Federal Emergency Management Agency report over the weekend, however, showed there could be 3,000 deaths daily by June 1.
Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx, members of the White House’s task force, have also previously suggested that between 100,000 and 240,000 people could die from the virus in the U.S.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes on its website how “current data suggest a disproportionate burden of illness and death among racial and ethnic minority groups.” Almost one-third of those who have died from the disease in the U.S. are Black, according to an Associated Press analysis.
Trump for weeks downplayed the threat of the virus before dithering on what action to take, as case numbers worldwide soared. He has used the daily task force briefings to attack journalists and tout unproven cures, such as his suggestion last month that injecting disinfectant could be a possible remedy, which he later claimed was sarcasm.
- Stay up to date with our live blog as we cover the COVID-19 pandemic
- What happens if we end social distancing too soon?
- What you need to know about face masks right now
- Will there be a second stimulus check?
- Lost your job due to coronavirus? Here’s what you need to know.
- Why it takes so long to make a coronavirus vaccine
- Parenting during the coronavirus crisis?
- The HuffPost guide to working from home
- What coronavirus questions are on your mind right now? We want to help you find answers.
- Everyone deserves accurate information about COVID-19. Support journalism without a paywall — and keep it free for everyone — by becoming a HuffPost member today.