As of April 7 at 1 p.m. CST, the U.S. had recorded 388,421 COVID-19 infections and 12,393 deaths. New York and New Jersey are still the country’s viral hotspots, but Michigan, California, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Florida, Massachusetts and Illinois have all exceeded 10,000 infections. In the next few days, Georgia and Texas, and possibly Washington State, will join them.

In many ways, the U.S., with its fanatic mix of rugged individualism, evangelical Christianity where belief trumps science, and hyper-devotion to a capitalist ideal of personal enrichment and privilege without regard for the consequences to social unity, the environment and global cooperation between nations, is the perfect breeding ground for the virus.

The American attitude is epitomized by the months-long “strategy” of denial and deflection that the Trump administration has employed to deal with the pandemic (aided and abetted by the broader Republican party at the federal and state level, and their backers in right-wing media led by Fox News).

So extreme is the divide between Republicans and Democrats that the pandemic itself has been politicized with Republicans, guided by what Trump has been feeding them with his wildly contradictory statements on the virus, far less likely than Democrats to take the virus seriously.

That’s where the projections of between 100,000 and 240,000 fatalities come in. As the virus spreads beyond initial hotspots such as New York, Seattle and San Francisco to the American heartland, where public health infrastructure is much less robust (or even non-existent), and poverty is greater, it’s feared the death toll is going to explode.