Novel Coronavirus is sweeping the world, as pandemics do, but it was not unpredictable. Outbreaks of contagious diseases are not new to the human experience. True leaders understand the value of prevention. But in 2018, during a booming economy and amidst bravado, the US Pandemic Response Team was dismantled to cut costs as was the global health security team.
As COVID 19 entered the United States, we needed competent leadership. Yet on February 26, Donald Trump promised, “The 15 [cases], within a couple of days, is going to be down to close to zero. That’s a pretty good job we’ve done.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control, as of March 19, 2020, we have 10,442 cases.
The time for dramatic action passed about a week ago. That time was when the NBA, NCAA, Major League Baseball, and all other major sporting leagues were cancelling their seasons in an effort to curb the effects of the coronavirus, surprisingly leading the way for the entire country to take this outbreak seriously. We all should take note and remember that it was the commissioners of private sports leagues that pushed this country into action rather than our elected leaders. The president spent his time calling it a hoax, stating that the cases “would one day disappear – like a miracle”. Predictably, it did not disappear. Instead we have an exploding pandemic which threatens the lives and livelihood of every American in this country.
We deserve better from our leaders.
We are particularly vulnerable in Collier County. The virus disproportionately affects the older population, specifically those with underlying health conditions. Those over the age of 65 make up the majority of cases needing hospitalization according to a report issued Wednesday by the CDC. The median age in Collier County is 65 years old.
In countries that have made strides at containing and turning back this easily communicable virus, the government used aggressive actions immediately to stop the spread of the pathogen. They did not drag it out over weeks and months to see how the virus progressed. Most importantly, they quickly tested anyone showing signs of symptoms to identify carriers and minimize the spread. They dramatically cut off all social and work interactions and after a month of these types of severe measures, they finally dropped the number of newly infected people down to zero. AFTER A MONTH OF LARGE SCALE QUARANTINE.
We are not even testing at a rate to identify those who have the virus, let alone taking effective action to curb the spread of the disease.
Now is the time to take decisive action towards stopping the spread, flattening the curve, and protecting our citizens. Now is the time to begin testing citizens as is done in every other industrialized country in the world. We call on our elected officials to take decisive action to curb this pandemic and convey to their constituents the true severity of this situation. Beaches should be closed; indoor service in restaurants should be suspended; people must be allowed to stay home from work and allow our health care personnel a chance to beat this disease.