As coronavirus deaths in the United States approach 95,000, protestors left little doubt who they blame for the world’s most unenviable pandemic death toll.
In a haunting display dubbed the “day of mourning”, angry citizens left black bags resembling body bags lying on the pavement outside the White House.
One by one, they loaded the fake cadavers out of a truck for a photo opportunity in a park just hundreds of metres from the Oval Office.
Demonstrators placed flowers to mourn the dead and held signs saying things like “Trump Failure Our Loss” and “Trump Lies, People Die”.
A mock funeral procession was held with cars carrying posters that read: “Cause of death? Politics”.
The stunt began at the house of top Republican and Senate leader Mitch McConnell before passed by the Capitol building and ending at the White House, the Huffington Post reported.
A coalition of progressive groups staged similar protests in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas, among others.
"Activists across the country are holding a mass #NationalFuneral to hold the Trump administration and Republican elected officials accountable for their failure to protect people from Covid-19," the left-wing Center for Popular Democracy (CPD) Action, one of the organisations behind the protests, tweeted.
The demonstrators have been cast by some as a political counterweight to the gatherings of armed militia groups which have been protesting lockdown measures, and are backed by conservative political organisations and spurred on by Donald Trump.
Americans applying for unemployment benefits in the two months since the coronavirus took hold in the US hit nearly 39 million late this week, even as states gradually let people go back to work.
All 50 states have reopened to varying degrees but the moves have not been coordinated, with the northeast and west coast of the country moving slower than states in the south.
While the coronavirus crisis appears to have only deepened the political polarisation and partisanship in the country, President Trump has faced increasing criticism over how his administration has handled the crisis, which has lacked strong coordinated leadership.
New research from Columbia University indicates if the US implemented measures a week sooner, more than 700,000 infections in the country could have been prevented.
“The counterfactual simulations indicate that had observed control measures been adopted one week earlier, the US would have avoided 703,975 confirmed cases and 35,927 deaths nationwide as of May 3, 2020,” the report said.
“We find significant reductions of the basic reproductive numbers in major metropolitan areas in association with social distancing and other control measures.”
The research effectively sought to put a number on recent comments made by the country’s top infectious disease expert and leader of the US coronavirus task force, Dr Anthony Fauci, who admitted in a TV interview that lives would have been saved had the US moved to lockdown earlier.
More than 1.5 million people in the US have tested positive for COVID-19, leading the world in confirmed cases and deaths. As of Friday 94,702 people in the US have died from coronavirus.
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