March 12, 2020


“President Donald Trump on Wednesday imposed sweeping restrictions to prevent people from 26 European countries from traveling to the United States for a month… The travel order does not apply to the United Kingdom and Ireland, and does not apply to American citizens.” Reuters

See our prior coverage of coronavirus here. The Flip Side

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From the Left

The left is critical of the Trump administration’s response to the crisis to date.

“Trump has served up an irresponsible and dangerous buffet of misinformation about the threat posed by the coronavirus… Trump assured Americans at that February 26 news conference that the number of people infected in the United States is ‘going very substantially down, not up.’… [but] The CDC had made it clear to expect more, not fewer cases, an estimation that has proven accurate… Trump was also rightly criticized earlier this week when he tried to undermine the World Health Organization's recent announcement that the mortality rate for the coronavirus was no longer just over 2%, but had risen based on new data to 3.4%. In a phone call on Fox News's ‘Hannity’ show, Trump bluntly stated that ‘the 3.4% is really a false number.’ What was the basis for Trump disputing the health care experts at WHO? Trump commented, ‘this is just my hunch.’"
Dean Obeidallah, CNN

“As the coronavirus threat was just starting to come into focus in early February, the White House recommended significant cuts to investments at the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. To be sure, this president had called for deep cuts to the CDC budget before, and Congress ignored those requests. But calling for CDC cuts in the midst of a global viral outbreak seemed especially bizarre. Stranger still, the White House apparently hasn't changed its mind.”
Steve Benen, MaddowBlog

“The unforgivable shortage of tests—and the hoops doctors have to jump through before they can get patients tested—has created a situation where no one knows how many people are actually infected. Medical professionals have complained in frustration that CDC guidance is almost useless…

"We now know that health officials at the CDC wanted to recommend that elderly and physically fragile Americans avoid flying on commercial airlines. The White House ordered that the air travel recommendation be removed, endangering the very people the virus is likely to affect most severely. CDC officials couldn’t explain why they refused to use the World Health Organization’s coronavirus test and instead tried to develop one that failed… It is bad for Americans when the vice president and the HHS secretary, both charged with communicating the government’s plans to the public, can’t even agree with each other.”
Lili Loofbourow, Slate

“Agencies like the C.D.C. offer rudimentary advice on what symptoms to watch for and how to wash hands effectively, and say not to touch one’s face. But most guidance stops there and fails to give unambiguous advice on when and how to limit gatherings, cancel big events, postpone travel and how, precisely, people should prepare for potential quarantines or hunkering down.… there’s not just an absence of information but also an absence of authority.”
Charlie Warzel, New York Times

Regarding the travel ban and Trump’s speech on Wednesday, critics point out that “The ban will exclude the United Kingdom, despite the fact the country has more than 450 cases of coronavirus, far more than many of the European nations that will be barred under the ban. (The president has also not banned travel from South Korea, which has so far had a much higher rate of coronavirus cases than any European country outside of Italy.)…

“While the president focused on efforts to keep more people from bringing the coronavirus to the U.S. from abroad, he largely ignored any discussion of efforts to contain the Covid-19 cases that are already rapidly spreading throughout the country. Trump pushed common-sense measures that individuals and groups can take, like social distancing and practicing good hygiene. But he declined to mention any efforts that would address key issues facing the U.S. as the virus spreads, like increasing coronavirus testing or taking action to combat the looming possibility that there may be more Americans who require hospitalization than hospitals can actually handle.”
Alison Durkee, Vanity Fair

“We’re already seeing ‘community spreading’ of the virus — that is, people with no international travel and no links to known cases are now getting the virus… [The ban] was an extraordinary move, but one that may do little to stop or mitigate the spread of coronavirus— while potentially damaging the US’s already somewhat strained relationship with its European allies.”
Jen Kirby, Vox

“Public health officials recommend that people exposed to the coronavirus remain in isolation for 14 days. Even companies that provide sick leave are rarely that generous. Accordingly, the proposed legislation would also require up to 14 days of paid sick leave during public health emergencies. One flaw in the proposal is that it would require employers to foot the bill, even as many companies are facing a drop in revenue. The government should absorb the cost of the emergency sick leave provisions by giving companies a tax credit.”
Editorial Board, New York Times

From the Right

The right is supportive of the Trump administration’s recent moves and calls for action to help the economy.

The right is supportive of the Trump administration’s recent moves and calls for action to help the economy.

“Make no mistake: These are extreme steps. But they are also serious and necessary steps… This strategy makes it clear that Trump is taking the pandemic seriously, and it’s about time. For the past few weeks, he has downplayed its risks in an attempt to bolster markets and public confidence. But now, Trump seems to understand that a temporary economic hit should not be the federal government’s primary concern and that the health and well-being of its citizens are much more important. Trump’s leadership will continue to be tested over the next few weeks as his administration rolls out this plan. But this is a step in the right direction. Let’s hope there are more to follow.”
Kaylee McGhee, Washington Examiner

“When President Trump sees a political threat, his instinct is to deny, double down and hit back. That has often been politically effective, but in the case of the novel coronavirus it has undermined his ability to lead

“Disasters and crises can make or break presidencies—not from the event itself but from how the public judges a President’s response. In the last week the Administration’s performance has improved, and his speech to the nation Wednesday night was at least a step toward more realism. But the pandemic continues to build and he still understated the scope of the health risk. Travel bans are less important than mitigation efforts at home with thousands of likely cases already here… Mr. Trump did seem to recognize that the threat to public health is a chance to rise above narrow partisanship and speak for the whole country. His main opponent for re-election now isn’t Joe Biden. It’s the coronavirus.”
Editorial Board, Wall Street Journal

“One of the big reasons many people didn’t like the bailouts of 2008 was the sense of ‘moral hazard.’ Banks and Wall Street had made reckless decisions by offering mortgages to people who were extremely unlikely to be able to keep making payments, made complicated financial instruments based upon those mortgages, pumped up a housing bubble, and when it burst, asked the taxpayers to save them from the consequences of their own bad decisions…

“But there’s no moral hazard at work in this situation. The airlines, hotels, resorts, tourist attractions, and cruise lines didn’t behave recklessly or foolishly. They operated their businesses, safely and professionally, and then this horrific virus came out of China. You might argue that these companies should have planned for downturns or slow periods, but… how many companies have a contingency plan in place for ‘what happens if all of Italy shuts down’?… There seems to be this idea that airlines, hotels, resorts, tourist attractions, and cruise lines don’t deserve assistance from taxpayers because they’re proportionally used by rich people. But who do you think works for those companies and industries?… Tourism and hospitality industries combined are the fifth-largest employer in the country, around 15 million Americans.”
Jim Geraghty, National Review

“The availability of hospital beds in 38 states is limited by arcane laws called ‘certificate of need.’ Rather than allowing a hospital to be built, adding beds to an existing hospital, or offering some types of new technologies, many states require that these additions be approved by a board of existing competitors with every incentive to restrict new competition from opening or expanding. Imagine if an Aldi or Whole Foods wanted to build a grocery store or begin offering some new products in your community, but Publix and Kroger were in charge of deciding if the new store’s plans would be approved…

“State lawmakers have both the authority and the duty to put patients first. They should do so by bringing urgent legislation to immediately remove certificate of need laws, allowing healthcare providers to fully examine how they may expand to meet new demands. Lawmakers shouldn’t wait until there is a public health emergency to respond. They must act now.”
Lindsay Killen and Naomi Lopez, Washington Examiner

Finally, many argue that “for years, China has enticed American multinational corporations with access to its markets in exchange for off-shoring and sharing intellectual property. Americans watched as Beijing captured critical portions of global supply chains, including in pharmaceutical drugs and medical equipment. Today, up to 80 percent of the active pharmaceutical ingredients in American drugs are sourced abroad…

“Now, in the face of a pandemic, the absence of domestic capacity in critical medical sectors has critically endangered both the U.S. public health system and our economy. The inability to quickly increase the production of key supplies, such as surgical masks, medical gowns, respirators and pharmaceutical drugs limits our ability to mitigate the worst effects of the disease in this emerging crisis and in any future pandemic… America must make rebuilding our domestic supply chain a priority.”
Marco Rubio and Newt Gingrich, Fox News

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