Editor’s note: We endeavor to bring you the top voices on current events representing a range of perspectives. Below is a column arguing that the Trump administration has done a great job containing the coronavirus. You can find a counterpoint here, where Reason Foundation researcher Spence Purnell and Reason Foundation’s vice president for public policy Adrian Moore argue that the Trump administration botched its efforts to contain the virus early on and its plans for a stimulus will only cause further damage.
President Trump has implemented a well-balanced response to coronavirus, taking reasonable steps to limit America’s exposure to the disease while preventing mass hysteria from crippling the nation’s economy.
By the time the world learned of the novel coronavirus outbreak in China, it was already too late to contain the virus. Between the virus’s lengthy incubation period and the low likelihood of an infected person displaying serious symptoms, the cat was out of the bag before anyone even knew there was a cat or a bag. In all likelihood, some Americans had already brought the virus back from China and started unknowingly spreading it before anyone was aware of the potential for transmission.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that it’s almost equally certain that the worst fears about coronavirus are overblown — which also means that the most extreme measures that have been considered, such as nationwide lockdowns, are not just unnecessary, but counterproductive.
Mass quarantines of the sort that China and Italy have imposed require severe restrictions on individual liberty and are prone to causing widespread economic pain and emotional distress. But there’s no real evidence that such steps are actually necessary. While the outbreak seems to be losing steam in China, South Korea is experiencing the same encouraging results despite the fact that it took far less drastic action than China.
Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security, contends that America is past the point of being able to contain and eradicate coronavirus, explaining that once so-called “community transmission” begins the best approach is to allocate public health resources toward mitigation — preparing hospitals to treat those who display significant symptoms, making testing widely available, expediting vaccine development and educating the public on ways to limit their risk of infection so that we can “flatten the curve” and avoid over-burdening our healthcare system.
That’s exactly what the Trump administration has done. After taking immediate steps to limit travel from China and then other countries with coronavirus outbreaks, the president turned his attention to devising a strategy for dealing with the possibility that the disease had become effectively endemic, such as devoting additional resources toward developing a vaccine and devising effective treatments for those who have already contracted coronavirus. His decision to expedite testing of potential treatments, such as the promising antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine, could even prove decisive in our battle against this disease. The drug could be taken prophylactically or as treatment.
Meanwhile, Vice President Mike Pence and Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, are engaging in an all-out media blitz to ensure that Americans have access to the most up-to-date information regarding what scientists have learned about the virus and what people can do to keep themselves safe and healthy.
Just as importantly, the president is doing everything in his power to mitigate the economic consequences of coronavirus. In addition to projecting calm in his public statements, President Trump is putting together an economic stimulus package to insulate our strong and growing economy from ramifications related to external factors, such as supply disruptions from China.
Crucially, the administration’s plan to send substantial checks to all Americans will ensure that nobody slips through the cracks during this trying time. Under President Trump, there will be no forgotten Americans.
It’s easy for the average person to overreact to the emergence of a completely new strain of a virus, but it’s important for political leaders to keep things in the proper perspective.
An encouraging analogy is the H1N1 swine flu that emerged in 2009. Swine flu was quickly declared a pandemic, but the WHO revoked that designation in 2010. The strain continues to circulate to this day, but it is now accepted as just another variation of the seasonal flu that is no more concerning than any other.
Coronavirus is likely to follow the same trajectory, and President Trump’s carefully calibrated response to the outbreak has put the United States in an excellent position to mitigate the danger posed by coronavirus without enduring unnecessary economic pain or infringements on the individual liberties we hold so dear.
Bravo, Mr. President, and thank you.
Jason D. Meister is a political strategist and an advisory board member of Donald J. Trump for President Inc. Mr. Meister regularly appears on Fox News, Fox Business, BBC, WSJ Live, One America News, and other media channels.