February 27, 2020


“President Donald Trump assured Americans on Wednesday the risk from coronavirus remained 'very low,’ and placed Vice President Mike Pence in charge of the U.S. response to the looming global health crisis.” Reuters

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From the Left

The left criticizes the Trump administration’s response, arguing that it is disorganized and marred by incompetence.

“Different departments have clashed over whether to take sick Americans back to the US from Japan on the same plane as healthy ones. Trump reportedly wasn’t even told about that decision. Trump announced during the press conference that Vice President Mike Pence will be heading up the government’s response, but stated that he was not the ‘czar,’ and it remains unclear what the chain of command will be. There have also been problems with faulty tests for the virus. No one on the White House response team at the press conference seemed to know about the new Northern California coronavirus case. Now that community transmission of the novel coronavirus within the United States has begun, we can’t afford such disorganization.”
Kelsey Piper, Vox

“The now-veep also has a long and controversial history of holding views that are at odds with scientific facts, including questioning evolution, spreading misinformation about abortion, [and] distrusting condoms…

“Pence’s designation as the administration's de facto coronavirus leader, however, falls in line with the vice president’s more recent efforts within the Trump administration, where he's been wielding influence at the Department of Health and Human Services to push pet policies like defunding Planned Parenthood and repealing the Affordable Care Act.”
Alison Durkee, Vanity Fair

“Seeking to undo everything that his predecessor had done, Trump dismantled the epidemic-fighting infrastructure the Obama administration had built up at the National Security Council and the Department of Homeland Security. One of John Bolton’s first acts upon becoming national security adviser in 2018 was to dismiss the NSC’s global health team led by Rear Adm. Timothy Ziemer, a widely respected public-health expert…

“Even as America mobilizes against a global epidemic — soon to be a pandemic, according to a former CDC director — two-thirds of the top jobs at DHS are devoid of Senate-approved appointees. The second acting secretary in a row, Chad Wolf, inspired incredulity from both Republicans and Democrats with his Senate testimony on Tuesday. He claimed the mortality rate for covid-19 is around 2 percent — roughly the same, he said, as the common flu. In fact, the mortality rate for influenza is around 0.1 percent.”
Max Boot, Washington Post

“House Democrats tell us they are outraged by one aspect of the White House response in particular: The White House appears to have informed Democrats that they want to fund the emergency response in part by taking money from a program that funds low-income home heating assistance… While budgetary disputes are commonplace, in this case an important principle is at stake. A situation like this could ideally be handled with a clean, new emergency funding bill, making this sort of battling — which could slow the response to the crisis — entirely unnecessary…

“[Instead] What we’re left with is public health officials sounding alarm bells while the president uses his unparalleled megaphone to minimize the threat, and the administration tries to use the opportunity to squeeze money from domestic programs it apparently never liked in the first place. Some way to fight a pandemic.”
Greg Sargent and Paul Waldman, Washington Post

Finally, “There's a reason that the story about a Miami man receiving a $3,270 medical bill after getting a test for Coronavirus Disease 19 (COVID-19) is going viral: it is a relatable cautionary tale for Americans accustomed to our piecemeal, overpriced, for-profit healthcare system

“An estimated 44 percent of Americans say they don't go to a doctor when they're sick because of cost. Another 40 percent have skipped medical testing, and about 30 percent said in 2018 that, over the past year, they had to choose between paying for medical bills or basic necessities like food or housing… While Medicare For All is often advocated from a moral standpoint — of health being an innate human right — the arguments for it change in the face of a potential pandemic. Indeed, the lack of universal health insurance leaves us vulnerable to a deadly public health crisis.”
Nicole Karlis, Salon

From the Right

The right argues that Medicare for All would hinder efforts to deal with coronavirus, and criticizes China and Iran.

The right argues that Medicare for All would hinder efforts to deal with coronavirus, and criticizes China and Iran.

“Bernie Sanders advanced his anti-pharmaceutical industry narrative at the Democratic presidential debate on Tuesday. He's only showing us that we're lucky he's not president as the COVID-19 epidemic grows… Out of those companies leading the global race to find a viable vaccine, it isn't an accident that three out of four are American…

“American private biomedical research investment stretches into many tens of billions of dollars each year. It dramatically exceeds government funding. But the broader issue here is the global pharmaceutical market. Namely, in which American companies produce the vast majority of new drugs that allow the world's citizens to live longer, healthier lives… Sanders's idealized system would kill the goose that's been laying golden eggs for everyone.”
Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

“A grim reality for medical science is that deadly mutating viruses are inevitable, as are antibiotic-resistant infections. We are in a race between a virus calamity and the ability to create effective vaccines and antiviral therapies… A Medicare for All system in the U.S., with minimal private hospitals or physicians, would collapse beneath a real virus crisis. Medicare for All would smother the public-private infrastructure in the U.S. that develops, manufactures and distributes lifesaving therapies for viruses—or anything else. The Wall Street Journal this week wrote about Moderna Inc., an 800-employee drug company in Cambridge, Mass., that is working around the clock to create a coronavirus vaccine within months. If BernieCare happens, they’re gone. No, you won’t be able to import the coronavirus vaccine from Canada.”
Daniel Henninger, Wall Street Journal

“On the same day health officials warned the public to prepare for the ‘inevitable’ spread of the coronavirus, another Trump official declared that the administration had effectively ‘contained’ the virus…

“The reality is: We don’t know what we’re dealing with. We don’t know how many lives the virus has taken in China, and we don’t even know how many confirmed cases there are in the United States. The mutable nature of the virus and the familiarity of its symptoms make it difficult to identify, which is why health officials are preparing for a potential pandemic. This doesn’t mean it’s time to panic. Our system is well-equipped to handle this outbreak if it comes to that. The good news is that health officials are now saying the development of a coronavirus vaccine is ahead of schedule. Still, it is foolish to understate the effects preemptively, both physical and economic, of this virus.”
Kaylee McGhee, Washington Examiner

“Despite the potential of a pandemic that could crater the global economy, it’s a relief to know that China’s Communist rulers are focusing on the important things. The latest brouhaha between China and the United States unfolded last week when Beijing expelled three Wall Street Journal reporters in retribution for an opinion column entitled ‘China Is the Real Sick Man of Asia.’ It was the first time since 1998 that a foreign reporter has been kicked out of China…

“As hundreds of millions Chinese hide from the coronavirus, as over a million Muslim Uighurs are kept in concentration camps, as Beijing directs cyber and human espionage operations to strip the world of its industrial secrets and personal information, China’s Communist leaders going into conniption fits over a newspaper headline says it all, revealing just how little legitimacy they have.”
Michael Auslin, National Review

Similarly, “The Iranian government has covered up an outbreak of coronavirus that now threatens the Middle East… Unfortunately for the Gulf, Iraq, and other countries, Iran’s incubation is a threat to the world now. Its airlines, such as Mahan Air, have likely spread the virus to Lebanon and brought it from China. Mahan Air and other Iranian IRGC-linked firms have transported arms and operatives throughout the region. It wouldn’t be a surprise if a similar route enabled the virus to spread unchecked. The regime’s toxic blend of religion, militancy, and authoritarianism have come together in the worst possible way at the worst time in a fragile region.”
Seth J. Frantzman, National Review

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