Getting shit done in a shithole country...
Getting shit done in a shithole country... Sean Warren/gettyimages.com

This was predictable. Those who know a thing or two expected a surge of COVID cases when the weather got cold in October, and that happened. They then expected a surge due to unrestricted Thanksgiving travel, and that happened. Next, they expected a surge from unrestricted Christmas travel, and that has just begun to happen.

According to King County tallies, the COVID cases started falling sharply just before December 25, and then began rising sharply again five days later. The seven-day average in Seattle on Christmas Eve was 104. It's 115 on January 3. This local pattern is exploded by the national one: the seven-day average on Christmas Eve was 185,635, and it's 212,965 on January 3.

To make matters worse, Trump's administration has predictably bungled the vaccine rollout. In November, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar aimed at delivering 100 million doses of the vaccine "by the end of the year." By December, Azar cut that prediction down by a mind-boggling 80 million doses. By January 3, only an unbelievable 4.2 million people had received the vaccine. And where is Trump in all of this?

Despite this staggering incompetence—which is almost entirely the kind of white male incompetence that the cultural critic Ijeoma Oluo describes in her new book, Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America, and the art critic Jasmyne Keimig examines through the lens of the 2017 film, Lemon, in a Stranger Film Club post—Trump feels he deserves to be president for reasons that have no other basis than the color of his skin. (And he lost the race in early November by an unambiguous margin.) The man cannot even look at his own dismal record, look at the 300,000 US dead and his spectacular failure to distribute the life-saving vaccine (even some "shithole" countries are outperforming Trump's administration); this man, this white man, is indifferent to how exceptionally bad he is at America's top political job.

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And so, what does 2021 look like from this point? Because we can expect the current administration to be focused on making the illegal occupation of the White House an unimaginable reality, COVID infections will continue to rise sharply and then remain high until the middle of February, when we can expect Biden's pro-mask, pro-science, and pro-government policies to have a noticeable impact on the pandemic.

We can also not expect the vaccine rollout not be up to anything like First World (supposedly non-shithole) speed until the end of early March. This means the deaths and infection rates will not be under the kind of control that could make normal economic activities possible until around the middle of May. At that point, the possible convergence of the nation-wide seasonal rise in temperatures, the pro-mask policies (which will be imposed on all government workers, which number around 10 million Americans), and a meaningful rise in vaccinated Americans will finally crash the pandemic down to levels it has not seen since the month a black man was killed by the knee of a white police officer in Minneapolis, May 2020. This black man's name is George Floyd. He also caught the virus. It seems everything was trying to kill this black man.