Opinion writers weigh in on topics surrounding efforts under way to combat the spread of coronavirus.
Los Angeles Times: Coronavirus Pandemic Demands Extreme Precaution From Us All
The reality is that that the nation is still unprepared for the spread of a microbe we don’t fully understand. True, only 1,323 cases of COVID-19 and 38 deaths from the disease had been reported in the U.S. as of Thursday. But public health experts believe that the true infection rate is orders of magnitude greater than has been reported because of the shortage of diagnostic tests. Just to give one stark example of the testing inadequacy: California — a state with nearly 40 million people, 198 confirmed COVID-19 cases and documented community transmission — had conducted only 1,573 tests as of Thursday. It’s staggering to imagine how far and wide the infection may have spread undetected. Public health officials believe the battle to contain the novel coronavirus has been lost and the strategy now must be to slow the rate of infections — to flatten out the curve, in public-health speak — so that a surge of cases doesn’t overwhelm healthcare systems. Doing so could buy time until flu season has ended, which will free more capacity in the system to respond to COVID-19, and until new medicines to treat sick people become available.
The Wall Street Journal: ‘Don’t Panic’ Is Rotten Advice
This coronavirus is new to our species—it is “novel.” It spreads more easily than the flu—“exponentially,” as we now say—and is estimated to be at least 10 times as lethal. Testing in the U.S. has been wholly inadequate; history may come to see this as the great scandal of the epidemic. “Anybody that needs a test gets a test; they’re there, they have the tests, and the tests are beautiful,” as the president said last weekend, is on a par with “If you like your doctor you can keep your doctor” as a great, clueless lie. (Peggy Noonan, 3/12)
The Wall Street Journal: America’s Self-Shutdown
For all the foreboding about the novel coronavirus—foreboding that is justified—it is heartening to see the American people responding in ways reminiscent of the frontier spirit. Most people are doing what they have to do to survive a clear and immediate threat to their lives and communities.T he new watchword is “social distancing.” That means minimizing the transmission of an infectious virus for which no personal immunity exists by minimizing the chance that any one carrier will pass the virus to others. The speed with which the American people and their institutions are executing that sound strategy is breathtaking. (3/12)
The Washington Post: Anthony Fauci Fights Outbreaks With The Sledgehammer Of Truth
A virus that is deadly and little understood. An administration in deep denial. Anthony S. Fauci has been here before. As the coronavirus epidemic escalates, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) has become a familiar media presence. Fauci’s expertise and credibility shine against the contradictory and false messages coming from President Trump. The administration has at times sounded more concerned with protecting the president politically than stopping the spread of a potentially lethal disease. (Karen Tumulty, 3/12)
The New York Times: It’s A MAGA Microbe Meltdown
For three years Donald Trump led a charmed life. He faced only one major crisis that he didn’t generate himself — Hurricane Maria — and although his botched response contributed to a tragedy that killed thousands of U.S. citizens, the deaths took place off camera, allowing him to deny that anything bad had happened. Now, however, we face a much bigger crisis with the coronavirus. And Trump’s response has been worse than even his harshest critics could have imagined. He has treated a dire threat as a public relations problem, combining denial with frantic blame-shifting. (Paul Krugman, 3/12)
The Washington Post: There Are Reasons To Be Optimistic Regarding The Coronavirus
I sat down to watch Wednesday’s prime-time Oval Office speech hoping that President Trump would rise to the occasion by sounding confident, well-briefed and very much in command in his country’s hour of need. And then . . . well, you saw it. Or heard about it. Mistargeted initiatives, misstatements and plain old mistakes. And this was a prepared text, read from a teleprompter. I’m a little anxious, and I suspect you are, too. That makes this a good time to offer a few words of reassurance. (Megan McArdle, 3/12)
The New York Times: Trump Should Just Stop Talking About Coronavirus
For the good of the nation, for the health of the country, in the interest of doing something drastic to mitigate a national disgrace, President Trump should self-quarantine. I’m serious. Every time he opens his mouth or makes an appearance, he puts the American people more at risk. His three years of flagrant and unremitting lying have made him the last person who should be the source of life and death information for 330 million Americans. (Timothy Egan, 3/13)
Stat: Why Trump’s Coronavirus Speech, Designed To Calm, Deepened Panic
President Donald Trump’s televised address on Wednesday was clearly aimed at calming the U.S. public, as well as the stock market, about the novel coronavirus and the disease it causes, Covid-19. It had the opposite effect, as the impact from Covid-19 only seemed to get bigger. There are now more than 1,300 known cases in the U.S. (more on that in a minute) and 130,000 globally. (Matthew Herper, 3/12)
CNN: It’s Time To Let The Experts Do Their Jobs, Mr. President
For just a moment Wednesday night you might have thought President Donald Trump was at long last grasping the gravity of the coronavirus situation and taking the necessary steps to confront what may be the most serious crisis the country has faced since he took office — one that could lead to the deaths of vast numbers of people. Trump tried to give a serious address to the nation from the Oval Office, laying out a plan to tackle the pandemic. But it quickly became apparent that this was one more error-filled display in what has been a grotesque carnival of incompetence. (Frida Ghitis, 3/12)
This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.
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