In the face of the threat, worldwide and nationally, from the novel coronavirus, or Covid-19, steady leadership guided by medical science is needed. Not at all sure we are getting that. It appears that President Trump is more concerned about how it all plays out for him politically than the health of the nation.
He had tried to downplay it but circumstances have forced his hand somewhat.
UPDATE: In the last nine or so hours since I posted this, President Trump has reverted to his campaign mode and is calling the virus threat a hoax by his political opponents. While it may be true that some writers and some of his adversaries are slanting some of this and hoping it will bring down Trump, reality tells us daily it is not a hoax. Denying unpleasant truths does not make them go away. I’ll stick to what I get from medical and scientific professionals, not politicians from any side, if the government will allow the free flow of important information.
Respected health authorities warn that the virus, now spreading around the world rapidly, and which made its first appearance in China, is a serious threat to all mankind, even though they also acknowledge at present it is not known just how serious it will be — except the latest word seems to be that virtually all of us will somehow come into contact with it, which is not to say any one of us will necessarily come down with the disease. If it keeps on spreading like it has, eventually humankind may work up an immunity either through an as of yet not fully developed vaccine or from natural infection. Also it could become a regular occurrence as the annual strains of flu.
I’m not going to get into how deadly this new virus is because for one I do not know and for another thing it depends upon how you compare it. At present it is a virus spreading around the globe at an alarming rate. It is especially deadly to the young and old and anyone with a compromised immune system (I think that is safe to say). And as I already noted, there is no vaccine for it yet. But just to say, oh, well, it’s just like the sicknesses that go around every year, I think is not accurate — I mean if it comforts you, well fine. But I would hope those working on a cure or protection or care and our political leaders would have more of a genuine and rational concern.
Meanwhile, the stock markets have tanked in reaction to possible disruptions in worldwide commerce.
In his press conference the other day Trump looked pained and impatient when the well-respected immunologist Dr. Tony Fauci was talking. And the good doctor seemed to be aware that he was supposed to say little — keep it short. He did his best. A slight man, he looked nervous with Trump hovering behind him. Trump, himself, had a nervous or impatient scowl the whole time.
Trump reportedly was already furious that medical people had said too much.
Dr. Anne Schuchat of the Centers for Disease Control made remarks at the Trump press conference and was able to give what seemed an informative and level-headed, straight forward presentation, easily understandable to the public. Trump had complimented her earlier in the conference — Trump only appeared a little nervous while she spoke. I’m sure we need her medical expertise on the front line or right in back of it, but I’d rather see someone like her in charge rather than Pence who is too attached to Trump, afraid the bully will slap him down a notch.
So the whole nation, the whole world, is on edge with this thing. All Trump could do was brag that he took the correct initial actions by barring entry into the country even when everyone said he was wrong. They mocked me but I was right, he declared more than once. He also predictably kept using the word “strongly”. It seems it is one of the few adjectives he knows. And from what I have heard, whether Trump’s supposed actions were right or wrong, people have not been fully prevented from entering the country from infected areas. There are reports coming from students returning from overseas programs in Italy, which has been hit particularly hard by the virus, with no known source, who said they were not screened at the airport in the U.S.
At this point I am wondering just what the use of Trump is. Even vice president Mike Pence could do a better job (if he did not put unbending religious views in the way).
And indeed Trump has put his most obedient Pence in charge of the administration’s actions concerning the virus, and it has been especially noted that all announcements from the government on the subject are to go through him. Now I can see a good reason for wanting to have some control on information. It is important that messages from the government should be clear and accurate and not ambiguous. And of course it would do no good to just send out dire warnings that make it all sound hopeless. But from what we know about the Trump administration and what we know about Pence it seems the idea may be more to head off anything that might go against Trumpian politics or make the president look bad.
I would almost think a doctor needs to be in charge. But I suppose it is better to have knowledgeable medical people working to fight the disease and care for people and come up with vaccines and such. It may be better to have a civilian in charge. But it would be better to have one who is perhaps from the outside and does not have a political agenda (either pro or anti Trump). We need reassurance but also someone who sticks to just the facts.
When I first heard that American citizens who had been in China were being brought back to the U.S. for quarantine (14 days was it?) at various U.S. air bases on the mainland I thought about how as a truck driver I have driven past bases, such as March Air Force Base down by Riverside, Ca. And closer to my home, Travis Air Base, just outside the immediate Bay Area, near Fairfield and Vacaville. I remember wondering — crazy I thought — if I could somehow catch the virus just by driving near the places — like it was in the air.
Well, probably not from what I have heard and read so far, but it has been noted that the virus does seem to spread in other ways besides close contact where one gets the droplets from another human being who is infected and coughing and sneezing. It seems that the virus does survive on various surfaces for some time and one could catch it that way.
There have been at least two cases in the Solano County area of people getting infected who have not been, at least as far as can be determined, near suspected areas or where people known to be infected are. The reports I have been hearing don’t seem to mention Travis Air Base, which is in Solano County. But at least one radio call-in listener mused, and I am sure anyone who could put two and two together might guess (rightly or wrongly) that somehow the virus came out of there. I know that was my first reaction. The caller suggested that maybe one of the crew who cleaned the aircraft the quarantined people came in on got infected and then maybe went to a local store or something. We know now that people showing no symptoms can be infected and spread the virus.
And now I have to be careful. I don’t want to spread rumors but let me just say today I had an encounter — not of the close kind — with an individual who identified as just recently coming out of a certain country (not China but in that general part of the world) where the virus is present in fairly large numbers. The person was not ethnic of that nation. Neither one of us mentioned the virus. I was not in extreme close distance with the person. But it did make me wonder.
I think there is going to be a lot of that.
In my job as an over-the-road truck driver I come into contact with all kinds of people and all kinds of sanitary conditions from good to really poor (hey anyone who has used a restroom out on the road, you don’t have to be a truck driver, knows what I am talking about). I’ve survived so far. I’ll keep on as long as I can.