September 16, 2020
Scientific American never has endorsed a presidential candidate in its 175-year history—but, the editors say in the October 2020 issue of the publication, “This year we are compelled to do so. We do not do this lightly.”
Indeed, they note, “The evidence and the science show that Donald Trump has badly damaged the U.S. and its people—because he rejects evidence and science. The most devastating example is his dishonest and inept response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which cost more than 190,000 Americans their lives by the middle of September. He has also attacked environmental protections, medical care, and the researchers and public science agencies that help this country prepare for its greatest challenges. The editorial goes on to recount Trump’s many failures in handling the disease. On testing, the editors believe that Trump’s rejection of evidence and public health measures has led to “catastrophic” results in the United States.
They allege, “He was warned many times in January and February about the onrushing disease, yet he did not develop a national strategy to provide protective equipment, coronavirus testing or clear health guidelines. Testing people for the virus, and tracing those they may have infected, is how countries in Europe and Asia have gained control over their outbreaks, saved lives, and successfully reopened businesses and schools. But in the U.S., Trump claimed, falsely, that “anybody that wants a test can get a test.” That was untrue in March and remained untrue through the summer.
“Trump opposed $25 billion for increased testing and tracing that was in a pandemic relief bill as late as July. These lapses accelerated the spread of disease through the country—particularly in highly vulnerable communities that include people of color, where deaths climbed disproportionately to those in the rest of the population.
However, it wasn’t just a testing problem, the editors reveal. “… If almost everyone in the U.S. wore masks in public, it could save about 66,000 lives by the beginning of December, according to projections from the University of Washington School of Medicine. Such a strategy would hurt no one. It would close no business. It would cost next to nothing. But Trump and his vice president flouted local mask rules, making it a point not to wear masks themselves in public appearances.”
What’s more, the editorial goes on to say, “Trump repeatedly lied to the public about the deadly threat of the disease, saying it was not a serious concern and “this is like a flu” when he knew it was more lethal and highly transmissible,” they write. “His lies encouraged people to engage in risky behavior, spreading the virus further, and have driven wedges between Americans who take the threat seriously and those who believe Trump’s falsehoods.”
The Scientific American editors wrap up the editorial with their endorsement: “That is why we urge you to vote for Joe Biden, who is offering fact-based plans to protect our health, our economy and the environment. These and other proposals he has put forth can set the country back on course for a safer, more prosperous and more equitable future.”
Research contact: @sciam