On March 11th, President Donald Trump wisely announced that the United States is suspending all travel from Europe for the next 30 days. The new travel restrictions will not apply to the United Kingdom. Three days earlier, however, Nigel Farage, leader of the Brexit Party, tweeted that flights from Northern Italy have been arriving at Heathrow, Gatwick, and Bristol all week—without screening passengers coming into the United Kingdom for coronavirus.
The next day, on March 9th, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced all of Italy was on lockdown to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Italy has seen the largest number of coronavirus infections in Europe, with the number of confirmed cases in the thousands.
In the United States, we should immediately stop incoming travel from all countries. We can't rely on the precautions other countries are taking—or, as with the United Kingdom, the lack thereof. Coronavirus is spreading worldwide at an alarming rate. We need to stop the spread of it in the United States by halting all incoming travel and canceling all public events. Schools should be closed, and we should encourage people, whenever possible, to work from and stay home. We cannot foresee how the virus will have spread in two weeks with unerring accuracy, but we can act now, err on the side of caution and regularly reassess the situation.
The downside of overreacting and taking too many precautions on coronavirus is minimal. We might be embarrassed that we took more action than was needed—as was the case with the Y2K panic. But if our response to coronavirus comes too little too late, the consequences could be deadly for thousands of people who could have been saved.
[caption id="attachment_181830" align="alignnone" width="1920"] Toilet paper panic buyers.[/caption]
A GLOBAL PANDEMIC
In Italy, their health-care system is now stretched beyond its limits. They are running out of hospital beds and are facing staff shortages as doctors have become patients. There are already recommendations that medics should stop treating the elderly and focus on those with better survival chances.
“If we don't stop the outbreak everywhere we can't stop the outbreak anywhere.”
The USA and other countries could be in the same situation in a matter of weeks.
On March 9th, President Trump tweeted: “So last year 37,000 Americans died from the common Flu. It averages between 27,000 and 70,000 per year. Nothing is shut down, life & the economy go on. At this moment there are 546 confirmed cases of CoronaVirus, with 22 deaths. Think about that! [sic]”
The President is correct in that we need to keep it in perspective and not panic, but unlike the common flu, coronavirus is spreading exponentially. According to American physicist Yaneer Bar-Yam, who is focused on stopping coronavirus, "Something that's exponentially growing cannot be compared to something that's static.” Bar-Yam has also warned: “If we don't stop the outbreak everywhere we can't stop the outbreak anywhere.”
As of early March 2020, coronavirus has infected more than 90,000 people and has killed more than 3,000 people worldwide. On the other hand, influenza—also known as the common flu—has infected millions of Americans in the last few months and has killed more people, in the same duration, than coronavirus. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this flu season in the United States, there have been 16,000 deaths from flu.
According to Melissa Nolan, an infectious disease epidemiologist at the University of South Carolina, “The key difference between the novel coronavirus and influenza is this: We know what to expect from the flu. Covid-19 [sic], the disease the coronavirus causes, has plunged us into the unknown. We don’t know how severe an outbreak might be and how many people it would kill.”
Moreover, while we’re still not 100% certain, scientists suspect that this virus originated in non-human species, so there is concern that humans may not have sufficient immunity to COVID-19, and, unlike the flu, we do not have vaccines or treatments for it.
With surging global casualties, the coronavirus outbreak, which began in Wuhan, China, in December, has now been declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization. I cannot reiterate this enough: now is not the time for hesitation.
[caption id="attachment_181831" align="alignnone" width="1920"] Coronavirus sanitation workers in Wuhan, China.[/caption]
A TIME FOR UNITY AND ACTION—NOT PLAYING THE RACISM CARD
In spite of the need for unity and extreme measures, some liberals are actually blaming President Trump for the outbreak. Rather than focusing on the inevitable human tragedy before us, Democrats are trying to use coronavirus as a political weapon against President Trump.
True to form, Democrats are politicizing the tragedy.
"Honestly, it sounds almost so silly to say, but there's a lot of restaurants that are feeling the pain of racism, where people are literally not patroning [sic] Chinese restaurants, they're not patroning [sic] Asian restaurants because of just straight-up racism around the coronavirus.”
Diseases have traditionally been named after the location where they originated; progressives are claiming that calling it Wuhan Virus, or Chinese coronavirus, is racist and xenophobic. Rep. Ilhan Omar made the claim that Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy’s tweet calling it the Chinese coronavirus was racist. Note that in January, both the New York Times and CNN referred to it as the Wuhan Virus. And on March 10th Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, during an Instagram Live session, made the case that it’s racist not to eat at Chinese restaurants. "Honestly, it sounds almost so silly to say, but there's a lot of restaurants that are feeling the pain of racism, where people are literally not patroning [sic] Chinese restaurants, they're not patroning [sic] Asian restaurants because of just straight-up racism around the coronavirus.”
Democrats should work with the President and Republicans and actually put American lives ahead of their thirst to regain power.
In the face of COVID-19, we cannot do too much or be too cautious. Months later, if the United States is a little embarrassed that we overreacted, we will know that our precautions were correct.