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Do You Feel Safer?

Trump has sabotaged America’s coronavirus response:

The epidemic control efforts unfolding today in China—including placing some 100 million citizens on lockdown, shutting down a national holiday, building enormous quarantine hospitals in days’ time, and ramping up 24-hour manufacturing of medical equipment—are indeed gargantuan. It’s impossible to watch them without wondering, “What would we do? How would my government respond if this virus spread across my country?”

For the United States, the answers are especially worrying because the government has intentionally rendered itself incapable. In 2018, the Trump administration fired the government’s entire pandemic response chain of command, including the White House management infrastructure. In numerous phone calls and emails with key agencies across the U.S. government, the only consistent response I encountered was distressed confusion. If the United States still has a clear chain of command for pandemic response, the White House urgently needs to clarify what it is —not just for the public but for the government itself, which largely finds itself in the dark.

The Obama administration set up the pandemic response infrastructure in response to the Ebola outbreak in Africa. Trump has mindlessly eliminated everything Obama did without any actual understanding of why it was done and without any consideration of creating a replacement. He is going to get us all killed with his hatred of Obama and ignorance.


1 Badtux { 02.01.20 at 10:21 pm }

The only good news is that this is a coronavirus, not Ebola. As in, basically the same family of viruses as are responsible for much of the common cold. I worked up the numbers based on what’s being reported by the Chinese and what the case has been in past outbreaks of similar viruses (i.e, roughly 79 unreported cases for every reported case), and even if it infected every single American, it’d basically kill about twice as many Americans as are killed every year by the flu.

Of course, we’re still early, so we don’t have accurate information, but this virus doesn’t appear to be the one that I’ve been predicting for the past decade. It’s not deadly enough to be the Final Epidemic that basically ends civilization and most life on Earth. I doubt any viral infection ever will be, because there are limits on how deadly they can be. For real deadliness, we need to look at bacterial infections. The Black Death killed half of Europe’s population. All it needed was one mutation for virulence to do that. Today, we’d knock out the bacteria with antibiotics long before it became an epidemic, which is fine as long as the antibiotics work. But we’re breeding hardier and hardier strains of bacteria with our crappy healthcare system and overuse of antibiotics, and all it’ll take will be one mutation for deadliness on the part of, say, a common antibiotic-resistent pneumococcus, and we’d knock out half the population. Civilization likely wouldn’t survive that, we’re not medieval serfs, we don’t grow our own food anymore, we rely on a complex supply chain to stay alive. Or not alive, if that supply chain collapses.

2 Bryan { 02.02.20 at 4:42 pm }

The supply chain is the problem. China was already going to be shut for the Lunar New Year, but if the quarantine last a month, a lot of “just in time” inventory operations are going to have to shut down and layoffs are in the future. I keep reading articles about a cashless society written and promoted by people who don’t live under the threat of a hurricane. After a hurricane moves through it is cash only because the infrastructure that supports electronic transfers is gone.

Two years ago I had the flu [the reason I didn’t cover the 2018 Yukon Quest]. I had to give a friend self-defense training so she could provide food and water to my cats. I still had equipment my Mother used so I didn’t get shuffled off to a nursing home, but I spent a lot of time on the phone explaining to others how to do things that I did all the time. I was in a self-imposed quarantine.

The wounded require more resources than the dead, so a death count is not always indicative of the effect of a disease. That is not a nice thing to say, but it is reality. Trump is disarming the government’s ability to deal with problems while he is allow business to create more problems for us by polluting the air and water. It’s slow motion suicide.