No amount of patriotism or pride can change the appalling facts. The pandemic is acting as a stress test for societies around the world, and ours is in danger of failing.
I’m used to thinking of a nation such as South Korea as a kind of junior partner, a beneficiary of American expertise and aid. Yet the U.S. death toll from covid-19 exceeds 85,000 while South Korea’s fatalities total 260. That is not a typo. How could a nation with barely half our per capita income have done so much better? Washington has been Seoul’s patron and teacher for more than six decades, yet somehow we apparently have unlearned much of what we taught.
Much closer to home, Trump’s boasting about how his border wall is supposedly helping protect Americans against the virus is a joke. Mexico’s reported death rate from covid-19 is a small fraction of ours (though the numbers may be higher than the official count). In the border town of Nogales, Mexican authorities are using disinfectant spray to sanitize visitors arriving from Arizona.
How could it be that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which I always thought of as the premier public health agency in the world, so completely botched the development of a test for the novel coronavirus? We have by far the biggest economy in the world, and we believe we have the most advanced science. Yet for the first months of the pandemic, as the coronavirus silently spread, we were essentially blind. By the time we had eyes on the enemy, it was too late.
We have managed to slow the spread of the virus, but I worry we lack the social cohesion to stay the course. On Wednesday, the Wisconsin Supreme Court invalidated Gov. Tony Evers’s (D) extension of his stay-at-home order. By evening, bars in some Wisconsin cities were packed — no social distancing, no masks. In Milwaukee and several other jurisdictions, however, orders by local officials kept the bars closed. What are the Wisconsin cities that remain closed supposed to do? Set up roadblocks to keep outsiders away?
The Florida Keys have done just that: Since March 27, checkpoints have been in place to keep visitors from entering the island chain — which has seen just 95 cases of covid-19 and only three deaths. The America I know, or thought I knew, is one of restlessness, free movement, open roads. Until there is a vaccine, post-covid America may be very different.
Thanks to Trump, we have no coherent national plan to survive the pandemic. But also thanks to the federal government — and I include Congress as well as the president — we lack the kind of sturdy economic safety net that protects unemployed workers and shut-down business owners in some of the hardest-hit European countries — nations that once looked up to the United States as a model. In the Netherlands, for example, the government is granting employers up to 90 percent of their payroll costs so they can keep paying their workers rather than resort to furloughs or layoffs. That kind of continuity ought to speed recovery when reopening becomes safe.
The European Union is working with the World Health Organization and other wealthy nations such as Japan and Saudi Arabia in a crash program to develop a covid-19 vaccine, with initial funding of $8 billion. The United States has decided to go it alone with its own vaccine program, “Operation Warp Speed.” In the past, one might have bet on U.S. ingenuity and drive to win the race. But given our failure in testing, would you still make that bet now? And why is there a race at all, rather than a U.S.-led global effort?
The covid-19 pandemic has exposed the depth of America’s fall from greatness. Ridding ourselves of Trump and his cronies in November will be just the beginning of our work to restore it.
Brenda Fitzgerald already had prompted concern that her investments compromised her ability to discuss some issues handled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Dr. Fitzgerald’s resignation came less than a day after Politico reported she had bought shares in Japan Tobacco Inc. shortly after she became director of an agency whose leading priorities include preventing smoking and tobacco use. Dr. Fitzgerald had also owned stock in five other tobacco companies before she became CDC director, Politico said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention plans to scale back or discontinue its work to prevent infectious-disease epidemics and other health threats in 39 foreign countries because it expects funding for the work to end, the agency told employees... The CDC currently works in 49 countries as part of an initiative called the global health security agenda, to prevent, detect and respond to dangerous infectious disease threats. It helps expand surveillance for new viruses and drug-resistant bacteria, modernize laboratories to detect dangerous pathogensand train workers who respond to epidemics... The package included $582 million in funds to work with countries around the world after the Ebola crisis in 2014 and 2015. But that funding runs out at the end of fiscal 2019... Public health leaders had said they hoped dollars for the work would eventually be added into the CDC’s core budget, after the epidemic delivered a wake-up call about the world’s lack of preparedness for deadly epidemics... if its funding situation remains the same, it will have to narrow activities to 10 “priority countries” starting in October 2019.. The 10 countries where global health security activities will remain are India, Thailand, Vietnam, Kenya, Uganda, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal, Jordan and Guatemala.. Other countries where the agency currently conducts global health security agenda activities include Democratic Republic of the Congo, one of the world’s main hot spots for emerging infectious diseases and the site of the first Ebola outbreak in history; Pakistan; Indonesia; Haiti; and China.. Those countries next on the priority list, after the top 10, are China, the DRC, Ethiopia, Indonesia and Sierra Leone