Culpeper County, as most of us and even Fox News must now admit, is facing a serious crisis.
Though we are seeing only the first cases of the coronavirus in our community, it is only a matter of time, especially if we do not take preventive measures seriously, before we will see many more.
We are lucky that, lacking a coherent response from the federal government, our state and local leaders—in cooperation with our health-care providers and our businesses—are helping us to understand the actions that we can take to protect ourselves and those around us.
The preamble to the U.S. Constitution lists “promote the general Welfare” as one objective of our nation’s new government. The coronavirus pandemic demands that we, as a society, decide whether to promote the “common good,” rather than allow the Trump administration to pursue its own self-interests and dismissive agenda.
There were early warning signs.
Dr. Li Wenliang was one of the first to sound the alarm about the emerging disease, to his fellow physicians at China’s Wuhan Central Hospital on Dec. 30, 2019. The first death in Wuhan was on Jan. 9. Dr. Li died on Feb. 7. The next day, an American citizen died in Wuhan. The first case in the United States was reported on Jan. 20 in Washington state. On Feb. 5, the State Department arranged four charter flights to bring Americans home from Wuhan, despite opposition by the federal Centers for Disease Control.
A simulation exercise conducted by the Health and Human Services Department last year revealed the nation was not ready for a pandemic such as the coronavirus, The New York Times reports. This January and February, U.S. intelligence agencies issued classified warnings about the global danger posed by the virus, The Washington Post reports.
But little was done.
We have seen the exponential rise of infections and deaths all over the world, particularly in Italy, Spain and Germany. Now, it is happening here in the United States. The CDC reported more than 15,200 cases in all 50 states as of late Thursday—with 201 deaths.
Trump’s response to this has been marked by contradictory statements to the public, attacks on the press, sluggishness, confusion, chaos, ignorance, misinformation and downright incompetence.
He has worried more about the financial markets’ effect on his re-election prospects and has castigated the “fake news media” about overinflating and exaggerating the threat while asking him “nasty questions.”
The reality is that the White House hobbled the government’s capabilities as early as 2018 when National Security Adviser John Bolton opted to “downsize” and “streamline” the National Security Council office on pandemic preparedness. That prompted its director’s abrupt departure, along with many others over time, and left the country flat-footed.
Trump’s press conferences over the past two weeks have been anything but presidential. They have highlighted his lack of leadership. Calling the spreading coronavirus a media hoax, and blaming the opposition party or the previous administration, are acts of desperation, not science.
Drs. Fauci, Brix and Redfield have been doing their best to present the facts to the American people, while surrounded by Trump and his clueless sycophants. Only recently has Trump been forced to admit this is a public health crisis, not a public relations problem. Even today, the administration’s proposed budget cuts CDC funding by 19 percent.
What should we learn from all this? The real world requires that doctors and scientists, not politicians, make professional and meaningful recommendations to the public.
If we do not dampen down this disease quickly, the number of people needing serious medical attention will overwhelm the country’s health-care personnel, facilities and supplies. Testing for the virus has already stretched our health-care system, and tests identify only the carriers. Treating the ill is another story. How many people will die from the slow arrival of testing supplies and hospital equipment?
This administration, and its enabling legislators in the Congress, has been weighed, measured and found wanting. They must be removed from office in November for the good of our country and the preservation of our way of life. Wash your hands … and vote.