Paul Krugman: Trump has unleashed a 'plague of ignorance' that is killing Americans
Economist Paul Krugman (screengrab)

In his column for the New York Times, Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman stated that Donald Trump's pretense that the coronavirus pandemic is going away -- along with his refusal to wear a mask and encouraging other to do so -- is the reason why the U.S. is looking at catastrophic infection and death numbers.

Coupling the president's anti-science rhetoric with the surge in COVID-19 infections, the columnist said it is no surprise the country is seeing an explosion of cases since the president seems to have moved on to exclusively pushing for things to return to pre-pandemic normalcy.

"We’ve known for months what it takes to bring Covid-19 under control. You need a period of severe lockdown to reduce the disease’s prevalence. Only then can you reopen the economy — while maintaining social distancing as needed — and even then you need a regime of widespread testing, tracing and isolation of potentially infected individuals to keep the virus suppressed," he wrote before adding, "But the United States is exceptional, in a very bad way. Our rate of new cases never declined all that much, because falling infection rates in the New York area were offset by flat or rising infections in the South and the West. Now cases are on the rise nationally and surging in such states as Arizona, Texas and Florida."

Krugman went on to add that, despite what Trump has claimed, the infection numbers aren't increasing because of more testing but because Americans are not doing what they need to do to protect themselves because of the president's words.

"Trump has suggested that some people wear masks only to signal disapproval of him, and many Americans have decided that requiring masks in indoor spaces is an assault on their freedom," the economist explained. "As a result, social distancing has become partisan: self-identified Republicans do less of it than self-identified Democrats. We all saw how this plays out in Tulsa, where a large (if smaller than expected) crowd gathered, mostly without masks, in an indoor setting custom-designed to spread the coronavirus."

Saying that Trump is unleashing a "plague of willful ignorance," Krugman explained, "We aren’t a nation of know-nothings; many, probably most Americans are willing to listen to experts and act responsibly," however he claimed,  that there is "a belligerent faction within our society that refuses to acknowledge inconvenient or uncomfortable facts, preferring to believe that experts are somehow conspiring against them."

"Trump hasn’t just failed to rise to the policy challenge posed by Covid-19. He has, with his words and actions — notably his refusal to wear a mask — encouraged and empowered America’s anti-rational streak," he added before concluding, "And this rejection of expertise, science and responsibility in general is killing us."

You can read the whole piece here.