Since the outbreak started, a few short weeks ago, the Coronavirus 2019-nCoV has spread rapidly.
What started out in one city, in mainland China, has now spread around the globe. Currently, there are over 47M cases worldwide, with at least 9.4M being reported in the United States.
Three cruise ships are currently quarantined due to the virus. One of them, the Diamond Princess, has had 61 reported cases onboard. This has caused authorities in Japan to deny entry to the ship, which currently houses 2600 passengers and 1100 crew members. Fear runs rampant, as people wait to find out if they are contaminated.
To date, this deadly virus has already claimed over 600 lives, all but two of them being in China. Mostly those are elderly people, who are more susceptible to it and who are more likely to have other, underlying medical issues. Still, nobody knows yet how deadly this virus will prove to be. Since this is the first time that this particular virus has infected humans, the world’s medical community doesn’t have any historical data to go on. Our top medical research facilities are working overtime to understand the disease we’re dealing with and until they have that understanding, not much can be done to develop a cure.
Adding to that is the suspicion that China has not been totally forthcoming with information about the virus and how it is spreading inside its borders. A few fact checks have shown that information being disseminated wasn’t totally true. This has led to people questioning everything the Chinese government is saying. We may not know the truth until long after the pandemic is over.
What About the US Government?
The Chinese government isn’t the only one being questioned. Some Americans still remember the Ebola outbreak of 2014 and how our government handled it. When fear was at its highest, then-President Obama appointed Ron Klain as the Ebola czar, rather than picking someone with medical knowledge. Who was Ron Klair? He was a political operative and lawyer. In other words, he was more of a public relations man, than he was a medical expert.
Amazingly, talking about the Ebola outbreak died within days of Klain’s appointment. Did this mean that the danger had passed? Impossible! What it means is that Klain managed to silence the media coverage of the outbreak, leaving the common people in the dark. Without any new information, the people turned their attention to the next “outrage of the day,” as instructed by the mainstream media.
Giving the government the benefit of the doubt, former President Obama could have been trying to forestall a nationwide panic. The masses of people, without accurate knowledge about the virus and how it is spreading, can panic easily. Klain’s orders could have been to prevent that. We’ll never know.
So, what does this tell us about the current pandemic? Could our government be hiding information from you and me? We can’t deny that possibility, even though we have a different president in office. Much that happens in government is driven by the army of bureaucrats working in federal office buildings, not the orders of the sitting President. Those bureaucrats could very well be hiding the truth from us and there could be many more cases here at home, than any of us realize.
A Plan for Government Action
Any solution to the coronavirus is going to come from the medical community, not from the government; or perhaps the medical community working for the government. Fortunately, one of our government’s shining stars is the CDC, one of the world’s top three medical research facilities.
The Government’s Medical Team
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is probably working overtime right now, analyzing the Coronavirus, how it is spreading, the vulnerabilities of the patients and the parameters under which the virus can survive. As one of the world’s top three medical research facilities, the CDC is always on the front lines of such battles, regardless of where in the world they are happening.
But the CDC, along with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Pasteur Institute in France, is working at a disadvantage, as this is the first time that this specific virus has infected humans. That puts things in a totally different light than when the Ebola outbreak happened in 2014. While little was known about Ebola before that time, at least it wasn’t the first time that CDC had to deal with it.
When the Coronavirus first appeared, nobody had any idea that it was deadly. As with almost all other respiratory infections, the early stages look just like the flu. Early presentations of Ebola, which we all know is a major killer, are the same. It wouldn’t be until people started dying that doctors even had an idea that some new killer was among us. Even then, it might not have been the first people who died, because influenza kills an average of 61,000 people per year.
What that means is that it was some time before researching this new virus could even begin. Such research takes time, as doctors have to work with patients who are already infected. They’re essentially trying to play catch up, with a disease which is already at work. At the same time, they can’t kill the very patients whose lives they are trying to save, in an effort to study the disease.
Work on a vaccine can’t even begin until they understand the virus that they are dealing with. But there’s no guarantee that an effective vaccine can even be developed. Finding the right combination for any given virus can take years of work; and then, it might be a situation where the vaccine kills a certain percentage of those who receive it. What do you do then?
Other Possible Government Action
The coronavirus has spread so rapidly because of air travel. That’s how it got here to the United States. Most of those who have come down with it was in China, specifically in the city where the virus originated. Others were infected by them.
One of the problems with battling this pandemic, as with any viral disease, is that the individual will typically be infected for a few days before there are any obvious symptoms. Then it might be another two days or so before they decide to visit their doctor. During all that time, the virus is multiplying in their body and being spread about to infect others through coughing and sneezing. In this way, one person could literally infect hundreds, before it is determined that they have the coronavirus.
This makes it extremely difficult for the government to do anything to slow the spread of the disease. We, humans, are social creatures, accustomed to interacting with others on a constant basis. But each of those contacts can offer a chance for the coronavirus, like any other virus, to be transmitted from one to another.
The only way that the government could effectively block the spread of the disease, is to deny us the right and opportunity to interact with other people, essentially putting the entire country on quarantine. But that would be illegal, coming against our rights, as defined in the Constitution, specifically the rights to assemble peaceably and for interstate travel.
In Tom Clancy’s book, “Executive Orders,” the nation is faced with a bio-warfare attack of the Ebola virus. Within hours, people are diagnosed with the disease in various cities around the country. Within days, hundreds are hospitalized.
In that story, it is clear that the epidemic has been caused by biological warfare because the disease breaks out in several different places at the same time. The main character, President Jack Ryan, takes the unprecedented and unconstitutional action of shutting down all public places of gathering and all interstate travel, trying to stop the spread of the virus. It works, but that’s fiction. The only way we could see if that world work in the real world would be to try it, and such a trial would immediately be deemed illegal in court.
Basically, the government can’t stop a viral pandemic. If it is going to be stopped, it will have to be because the average citizen, you and I, stop personal interactions. Actually, that’s what stopped it in Clancy’s novel, not the executive order of the president.
A Plan for Personal Action
As of right now, the government is saying that the risk to Americans of catching the coronavirus is extremely low. I just watched a press conference done by the CDC, making that point. So as long as the government is telling us the truth, we don’t have much to worry about. The question is… can we trust the government? Could they be hiding the truth, as they did in 2014, to avoid a panic?
If the government can’t protect us, then it’s up to us to protect ourselves. How can we do that? By limiting our own interactions with others. If we want to make sure that we don’t contract the coronavirus, that’s the only way to do so. We have to avoid contact with anyone who has it.
The problem is, we won’t know who has it. The most likely suspects are those who have traveled to China recently. But with the disease spreading so rapidly, there could be any number of countries with infected people walking the streets. How are we to know who of the people we come into contact with is infected and who is not? There’s no way.
Few of us can actually limit contact with others to the degree needed to ensure our safety unless we live a more isolated lifestyle; either living out in the woods or working from home. Work, school and other activities force us into having contact with others.
But there is one thing we can do if things get bad enough that we need to. That is to use personal protection equipment (PPE) to protect ourselves from the virus. This means wearing a medical mask, respirator or gas mask, along with goggles, if the mask doesn’t have them built-in. Respiratory infections are called by that categorical name because that’s how they get into our bodies. If we block off their entry, with the right PPE, then we are protected.
However, the CDC has asked that we don’t stock up on individual PPE. They are concerned about there being enough to meet the needs of the medical community if too many people start stockpiling it. I won’t give you any advice on that, other than to suggest that when you buy, be realistic about your needs.
Another Potential Problem
This pandemic could be causing problems that have never before been seen; that of affecting the world’s economy. The supply line for just about any product goes through China; meaning that either the product is manufactured in China or that parts used in the manufacture of the product come from China.
Shipping companies, both marine, and air are cutting back on the number of flights and ships into and out of China, due to the quarantine. Even if they weren’t many of the stevedores and airport workers needed to load those ships and planes aren’t on the job. Without people to load, they would be forced to tie up valuable dock space or parking space at the airports, waiting.
With today’s just-in-time (JIT) manufacturing model, this means that companies will quickly run out of essential parts or products. If things don’t get under control quickly, we could see worldwide shortages of products, beginning within days. How serious that becomes will depend on how long the pandemic lasts. The longer it is, the more shortages we will see.
It’s impossible to determine which products will be most affected by this, as many “American made” products still contain components that come from China. Every company will be scrambling, with engineers seeking out replacements. But that doesn’t mean those replacements will be found.
We could be on the brink of seeing a worldwide financial catastrophe, which outshines any other effect from the pandemic. There’s really no way of knowing. At this point, it all depends on how quickly the CDC and the worldwide medical community can come to grips with the coronavirus and stop this pandemic from spreading.