Say a prayer for America

Say a prayer for America

Thursday, July 30, 2020

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Besides the fact that Americans are such an invaluable part of the human family, the umbilical cord tying Jamaica to the world's most powerful nation makes it the more painful to see the havoc being wreaked upon them by the COVID-19 pandemic.

At Jamaica Observer press time, an unbelievable 150,300 Americans have died from the novel coronavirus and 4.4 million infected. That, by any stretch of the imagination, is a horrendous number of deaths in the few months since the virus arrived on US soil.

The New York Times, which has been tracking the tragedy daily, reported yesterday that the rate of deaths continues to rise on the heels of ballooning infections and hospitalisations in many areas of the country.

“An average of about 1,000 virus-related deaths a day have been reported over the past week, the worst rate since early June, when the number of people dying seemed to be falling. Now, daily death counts are rising in 24 states and Puerto Rico,” the newspaper said.

It said the nation's overall death toll reached the grim figure on Wednesday, five months after the first reported virus death in the United States in February. The nation passed the 50,000 mark on April 27, and 100,000 on May 27, a milestone whose approach the paper dramatised by filling its front page with names of the dead.

More than 2,100 deaths have been reported in the past week in Texas, and there are big daily death tolls in Arizona and South Carolina. Yesterday, Florida, which is especially close to Jamaicans, again set its single-day record for deaths, reporting 216 fatalities and bringing the state's total to 6,332.

To put in context the number of Americans dying from this dastardly virus, we note that the American Revolutionary War, or War of Independence, claimed 25,000 lives; World War I took 116,516; Korean War, 36,574; Vietnam War, 58,209; and Iraq War 4,576.

Only World War II and the American Civil War claimed more American deaths, and that was over several years of brutal fighting. From major virus outbreaks, the terrible H2N2 in 1957 took 116,000 American lives.

Jamaicans breathed a sigh of relief that New York, home to probably the highest concentration of their nationals, has seen a dramatic reduction in virus cases and deaths, after it became the epicentre in March.

No doubt, the concern has now shifted to relatives in Florida, especially South Florida and Miami, fondly dubbed Kingston 21 because of its popularity with Jamaican migrants. But Jamaicans are all over the States, and nowhere is safe.

Health apart, Jamaica depends seriously on remittances from its nationals, constituting between the highest and second highest foreign exchange earner. As our nationals lose jobs due to the coronavirus, remittances dwindle.

Critically, roughly 70 per cent of visitors to the island come from the United States. When they cannot travel,or have no money to take vacations, it is not difficult to imagine the impact on Jamaica. Tourists bring in US$4.4 billion a year.

Our exporters, entertainers, and sports people are among the worst-hit groups who depend on a vibrant US economy to make most of their earnings. We have every reason to pray for a full and speedy recovery for the United States.


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