It’s no secret that the coronavirus and COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, have been wreaking havoc around the world this past month. Originating in Wuhan, China, it has spread to the Unites States and across Asian and European countries. According to Worldometer’s coronavirus statistics, there have been more than 85,000 confirmed cases with nearly 3,000 deaths so far.
Considering the statistics and the nature of the disease, which the Center for Disease Control’s website states is spread through person-to-person contact and infected particles in the air from coughing or sneezing, world leaders are taking steps to prevent outbreaks and quarantine the infected.
Except, apparently, the United States. President Donald Trump, at his press conference in New Delhi Feb. 24, falsely asserted that the virus is “well under control in our country,” according to MSN. His administration petitioned for a meager $2.5 billion to fight the disease, which drew immense criticism from both sides of the party divide.
Interestingly, MSN also stated that a U.S. judge blocked a motion to send a group of infected people to California to be quarantined, stating that the president had canceled a previous plan to move the patients to a better-suited area in Alabama for political reasons.
The president also previously cut funding to the CDC by 16%, a move which left many in an uproar.
Why is Trump using a group of sick people as a political pawn? Why is he not requesting adequate funds to treat this potential pandemic as a real problem?
Because according to Business Insider, at a political rally on Feb. 27, Trump made a landmark statement of arrogance and stupidity; he believed Democrats had politicized the disease and called their rightful criticism of his emergency reaction “a new hoax.”
He also blamed the steep nosedive of the stock markets on the Democrats, insinuating that their political fear-mongering was more to blame than the intense fear of the American public over this new threat.
He likened their response to the “impeachment hoax” and “Russia hoax,” a dangerous mindset to get into with so many lives potentially at stake. MSN says he even compared COVID-19 to Ebola, trying to downplay the severity of the disease by saying that at least it had a good survival rate.
This press conference followed the Department of Justice’s decision to fly home 14 infected passengers of the Diamond Princess cruise ship that had been stuck in quarantine in Japan, says Independent. This almost doubled the confirmed cases of the virus in the United States, which is further proof that the government refuses to treat the threat as one.
In fact, according to MSN, a Department of Homeland Security employee was told to return to work in violation of the mandatory 14-day quarantine following her return from China, indicating a lack of education over the seriousness of the coronavirus and also a disregard for employee health.
Even more troubling news raising concerns over a possible outbreak is the formation of Trump’s coronavirus emergency response team, at the head of which is Mike Pence.
According to CBS, Pence told the media in 2001 that smoking doesn’t kill, condoms are “very, very poor protection” and that abstinence was the best option of birth control. He also cut funding to HIV testers in Indiana before refusing clean needle exchanges, praying about the epidemic instead of sending aid in time.
Despite his obvious disbelief and disregard for common scientific knowledge, President Trump has stated that Pence “has a talent for this” and appointed him the head of the committee.
One of Pence’s first actions was to completely censor all health official reports, according to The New York Times. Officials have been ordered to not speak about the disease without permission, and it can only be assumed this is to prevent a widespread panic.
However, it has had the opposite effect, with many people in online forums wondering why the government would want to censor something so important to their health and well-being.
In an article published Feb. 28, The New York Times said health workers who responded to American coronavirus cases were not given proper training or protective gear and were allowed to move on and off base at will.
Common Dreams backs up this article with its own, claiming that more thantwo dozen people were potentially exposed, and that was just the people working there.
These claims appeared just hours after the CDC confirmed a case in California, a person who claimed to have had no contact with anyone who would have had it. Obviously there has been a horrendous mistake on the part of the emergency response committee, putting more lives at risk.
As of Tuesday, there have been two deaths in the United States from COVID-19 and one confirmed infection in New York State.
There is a severe lack of communication on the part of the new committee and the Trump administration, which has come under serious fire from people throwing Trump’s own words back at him after Pence’s appointment went public.
During Barack Obama’s presidency and the midst of the ebola crisis in 2014, Donald Trump tweeted, “Obama just appointed an Ebola Czar with zero experience in the medical area and zero experience in infectious disease control. A TOTAL JOKE!”
A total joke indeed, Mr. President, and one filled with irony.
Regardless of the government’s response, or lack thereof, to the coronavirus threats, there are things that the public can do to help prevent its spread. Washing hands, coughing and sneezing into elbows or tissues, and staying alert and educated are all ways to prevent the circulation of the virus on an individual level.
Email River Ashe Maynard at firstname.lastname@example.org