PANIC OR PLANNING

There is certainly a lot of panic regarding the coronavirus. In some cases, this looks and feels ridiculous. For example, it is hard to justify the run on toilet paper at Costco. But I have given this a lot of thought and I think this might be closer to brilliant planning.

The way this was handled in places like Italy and Germany is a disaster. Germany is now predicting that 70% of the population will be infected. That does not mean 70% will become deathly ill, but it does mean that this virus spreads at an astonishing rate.

That makes the decisions by Donald Trump look brilliant. His decision to ban travel with China, several weeks ago, is the primary reason we don’t have those kinds of problems here today. His new travel ban for most of Europe will buy more time. But he did more than that. It is not an accident that the NBA, MLB, NHL, PGA, NCAA and a lot of other organizations have cancelled events. That decision is costing them millions of dollars. This only happened because the Trump administration, through interaction with top executives, made this happen. This is unprecedented. It also might be exactly the right thing to do.

I did a little research and with a pandemic like this it is important to understand the speed at which this can spread and the catastrophic results when that happens. Ironically, China which gets a lot of the blame, also paved the way toward fixing the problem. They literally shut down entire cities, in a way that would only be possible in a totalitarian state. The virus was exploding, so they turned larges parts of the country, into virtual prisons. The results were catastrophic, for people in those areas. Hospitals were overwhelmed and we may never know the final death toll. But this also stopped the virus from spreading rapidly to other areas, and there are signs that things are rapidly improving.

Here in the United States, under the leadership of Donald Trump, we are achieving the much better results with a lot less pain. While a lot of us like major league sports, taking a vacation from them for a while is hardly the end of the world. But what it does do is send a message to everyone to self-isolate which will slow down the spread of the disease. It will still spread, and it will be a problem, but it will spread slower and give the experts valuable time to get ahead of the curve. At the same time massive effort is being spent on developing a fast and accurate test, work on a vaccine and develop drugs designed to deal with the disease. What is more important is that these tests, the vaccine and the medicine will be developed and manufactured here in the U.S.

The timing is perfect, because while the disease will spread rapidly during the winter, like every other pandemic it will slow down significantly during the summer. Trump is  right about that. Temporarily banning large public events will buy valuable time. So will warmer weather. By early fall, there will be tests available at an unprecedented level. They may not even require the tests be administered or monitored by doctors or other trained medical providers. It might be something simple, that people can take home and do themselves, like a pregnancy test. There will be tests developed that will allow everyone attending a major event, like a sporting event, to be properly screened. The same type of screening will be used on Cruise ships and airlines. It will save those industries.

This strategy has been proven to work.  The Democratic method of gun control is to take guns away from everyone. That does not work. But there is a kind of gun control that has been working for a long time. If you go into any stadium, you go through metal detectors that make it very difficult to enter with a gun or any other kind of weapon. That is why there have been no recent major shooting event inside a football stadium, a basketball arena, a baseball stadium or any other event where this type of screening takes place. It is why airplanes are a gun free zone. This works. While you can’t and shouldn’t screen all the people all the time, you can and should screen everyone attending a major sporting event or any other event where there are huge crowds. By fall, they will be screening for coronavirus and ultimately that will have a major impact.

Quite simply Trump bought us time. He is simultaneously putting maximum effort into a permanent solution. He has mobilized a joint effort by public health official and experts in the private sector. He has even got Democrats working overtime to fund a lot of this.

We are very fortunate that it is Trump, and not Obama in the White House. Heaven help us if someone like Joe Biden is ever in charge. Obama let the swine flu get out of control. We were fortunate that it was not a lot worse. But that was not the result of good management, it was the result of a disease that, although contagious, wasn’t in a class with the coronavirus. We already had flu vaccines and we knew how to treat the flu. The problem with the coronavirus is that no one appears to have any immunity to it, and we are just now learning how to treat it. We are fortunate that, so far, the fatality rate is low compared to other diseases.

History has taught us that a new pandemic, if not managed will get out of control. That happened as recently as the Spanish flu. How many people realize that more soldiers died from disease than bullets during WWI. By the way, the Spanish flu wasn’t Spanish, and it wasn’t the flu. It was bacterial pneumonia.

Native Americans were also devastated more by disease than by bullets. They had no immunity to diseases like the measles, so when these were brought to this country by Europeans the results were catastrophic, for Native Americans. These European diseases quickly spread out of control and for a Native American the measles was often fatal. Today, no one worries much about the measles or Smallpox, or yellow fever or even the flu. That is partly because a lot of us have built up immunity, but it is also because of vaccines and the development of effective medical treatment.

The bottom line is that difficult decisions being made under the leadership of President Trump will buy us valuable time and that time is already being used to make this horrible disease manageable. That is not necessarily obvious to many people right now, but historians will rank this as one of the best examples of leadership during time of crisis in the history of mankind. I wonder if, eventually, CNN might even notice. Some people, like Governor Gavin Newsom, have already figured it out. I watched AOC being interviewed by Brett Baier and she astonishingly showed some rational thought. She even backed off from slamming Mike Pence and said “he is in charge and we must work with him.”

TDM

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