For the first time in many months, I have a complaint about the Trump administration. Technically, it’s a complaint against nearly everyone in Washington DC as well as at the state government level since everyone should be acting as if the coronavirus is the biggest threat facing this nation and the world right now. But just as credit for our great economy and strong standing in the world start at the top, so too do mistakes such as the passive reaction to the coronavirus.
Most seem to be focused on preventing panic. But the best way to prevent panic is to take steps BEFORE the spread of the disease will make us panic. As far as we’re being told, such steps have not been taken. Perhaps they’re in the works. Perhaps preparations to shut down, well, everything, are already being planned with contingencies for both the economic hit as well as the strain it will cause to our healthcare system.
The problem with the coronavirus that too few are “panicking” about is the fact that it spreads through contact with asymptomatic people. Someone who has the virus can be unwittingly spreading it to anyone they are near because as far as they’re concerned, they aren’t sick. They don’t feel sick. They’re breathing, eating, sleeping, and walking around with no indications they’re contagious. That’s what makes this outbreak so different from anything this world has faced in the modern era. None of us can know when we’re part of the problem until we’ve already exacerbated it.
The naysayers condemning us “alarmists” are misguided. Perhaps they’re Trump supporters worried about what a real scare in the United States will do to the economy. It will be bad. Perhaps they’re climate change activists who don’t want their thunder stolen by an actual problem; I’ve had two people attack me with lines like “oh, sure, you’re scared of the coronavirus but you’ll dismiss the climate crisis as a hoax.” I’d speculate that most are simply self-proclaimed optimists who are simply hoping for the best. Regardless of the reasons, there’s a distinct need for Americans to be worried now so they can prove the “alarmists” wrong later.
I’d love nothing more than to be absolutely wrong about this. But the notion that we shouldn’t be concerned or that there’s no reason to take steps that might interrupt the day-to-day affairs of our lives is dangerous. We need to act now. At the government level, that means getting as many people tested as possible. Doctors should have tests ready to administer to everyone who comes to they’re office. All medical professionals should be taking preventative measures like wearing masks (I know, they’re not very effective, but they’re something) and having 100% sterilization protocols between patients. Schools in areas with known infections should start testing kids.
It all sounds terribly expensive and obnoxiously inconvenient. I sincerely hope it turns out the disease never becomes a major issue in the United States and I get called out for being paranoid. That would be the best-case scenario. I’ll happily take that hit to my credibility if it means we were spared the consequences of our muted actions.
Americans should be doing these things immediately:
- Pray: Seriously, please pray this disease is contained and soon eliminated.
- Prepare for future measures: There is absolutely nothing to be lost by having enough food, medicine, and essential supplies in the house to last at least two weeks, preferably much longer. Today, average Americans can sustain without outside contact for about a week. It needs to be much longer than that until the disease is confirmed to be contained.
- Limited contact: If you don’t have to be in close contact with others, avoid it. As a disease that spreads through apparently light close contact and potentially through airborne exposure from asymptomatic people, pretend like anyone can be infected and act accordingly.
- Wash your hands often: This is a best practice whether there’s a coronavirus epidemic or not.
Many are concerned the coronavirus scare will hurt the economy, as it’s already showing signs of doing. They’ll blame alarmists. Some even say it could get pinned on President Trump if it gets very bad here. But to those who are concerned about a souring economy hurting the President’s chances of reelection, know this: A temporary setback followed by an election-time rebound of the stock market will not hurt his chances nearly as much as an insufficient reaction to the coronavirus if it officially becomes a pandemic.
In fact, if much of the rest of the world is hit, as is currently happening, and the United States is mostly spared thanks in part to actions by the government, it will be a feather in President Trump’s cap.
If we set politics aside—hard, I know—we’ll realize that neither our healthcare system nor our economy are prepared for the coronavirus. But there’s hope that we can dodge the bullet if we, as a nation, take it seriously immediately.