Urban experts agree that cities like New York City, San Francisco and Chicago all need to adjust to this new post-pandemic world in order to survive.


Besides being the first president to get impeached twice, Donald Trump will have a stain on his legacy with arguably longer-lasting consequences: He’s about to become the only American leader in a century with more than 400,000 deaths from one event on his watch.

The USA is expected to cross that somber threshold soon, likely by Monday, yet another reminder of how poorly the nation with the world’s largest economy has fared during the coronavirus pandemic. The current COVID-19 death toll is about 396,000.

Not since Woodrow Wilson was in office during the 1918 flu pandemic – which killed about 675,000 in this country and 50 million worldwide – had a president overseen the loss of so many American lives. 

That total is fast approaching the 405,000 U.S. fatalities from World War II – thousands of them recorded when Harry Truman was president after Franklin Delano Roosevelt died in April 1945 – to rank as the third-deadliest event in the history of the republic. About 618,000-750,000 were killed in the Civil War of 1861-1865.

Many public health experts and historians blame the Trump administration for the extent of the COVID-19 devastation.

“What’s so troubling about this loss of life is it was preventable,” said Dr. Steven Woolf, director emeritus of the Center on Society and Health at Virginia Commonwealth University. “This is an infectious disease we knew how to prevent, and as difficult as it is, far easier to solve than defeating Nazi Germany. And yet, we did not mount a response to wage war against this virus as we have in these other situations.”

Thomas Whalen, an associate professor at Boston University and an expert on the American presidency, is even harsher in his assessment. Whalen cited reporting by  journalist Bob Woodward, who taped Trump on Feb. 7 acknowledging how dangerous the virus was even though he repeatedly downplayed its severity publicly.

“He has, you could say, blood on his hands,” Whalen said of Trump. “He knew this was a threat and really did not do what was necessary to respond to it in a thoughtful and resourceful way.”

The USA, the undisputed global leader in coronavirus infections and fatalities, has averaged more than 230,000 new infections and 3,000 deaths per day in January, part of a powerful winter surge that has overwhelmed hospitals in many regions and is likely to last through the rest of the month despite the arrival of vaccines.

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington projects 405,000 deaths by Wednesday’s inauguration day – the one-year anniversary of the first reported COVID-19 case in the USA – and more than 500,000 by Feb. 19.

The pace of new infections has accelerated at a stunning rate in the past 2½ months, along with the number of…