Wednesday letters: Coronavirus deaths, Chacos, freedom, and vulnerable populations
Trump bears responsibility for some portion of coronavirus deaths
To date, the U.S. has suffered over 79,000 coronavirus deaths. In my opinion President Trump bears responsibility for some portion of those. That judgement is based on my amateur efforts to track at least a few pandemic-related actions that he has recommended, implemented, or failed to take since his January, 2017 inauguration.
Early in 2017 he proposed cutting over $277 million in pandemic-preparedness funding. Failing at that, he upped the ante and in February, 2018 signed off on cutting $1.35 billion from the CDC. He also disbanded the Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense and later in 2018 had HHS divert funding from the CDC to pay for housing needed to detain immigrant children.
In July, 2019, HHS issued a report saying that the U.S. was under prepared and underfunded to fight an influenza-like pandemic. In spite of that warning, Trump’s administration then cut funding for a research program designed to investigate animal viruses that could infect humans.
In November, 2019, U.S. intelligence agencies warned the White House about an “out-of-control” disease in Wuhan, China. Then, during January-February 2020, those agencies used the president’s daily brief to provide him over a dozen detailed warnings about the health and economic threats associated with this virus.
In spite of all that information, Trump declared in March, 2020 that the virus was “a very unforeseen thing.” Meanwhile, he disregarded advice from health experts and began pushing to “reopen the country” saying: “Just stay calm. It will go away.” People followed those assurances and as of May 10 the U.S. had 1.35 million confirmed cases and 79,773 deaths.
Would those numbers be lower if Trump hadn’t dismantled and defunded so much of the pandemic prevention and reaction system? Would the U.S. have responded more effectively if he had used the time provided by early warnings from intelligence analysts in order to procure PPE and testing kits? Would there be fewer deaths if he followed the advice of experts about reopening? I believe so.
I leave to others the mind-bending question of why he shaped the route that has led to our current situation.
Chacos helps us see clearly
Eternal gratitude to Andrea Chacos for her column in the Post Independent on May 12 (“Getting lost in the forest of entangled ethics”). It’s about time for people to see that the emperor really has no clothes.
Chacos writes clearly, dispassionately, but forcefully to help us see clearly. “People in leadership positions are held to higher standards”— yes, yes, a thousand times yes. Since when can the one in charge say “It’s not my fault”? Where’s is “The buck stops here” Harry Truman when we need him.
So-called leadership removing our freedom
One of the major aspects of a nation with a basic concept of freedom was the idea of personal responsibility. It was taken for granted that the residents would act and live in a manner that would contribute to the safety of us all and secure and improve our environment.
What our so-called leadership is doing now is assuming that we don’t have the brain or sense of responsibility to act in a responsible way.
What they are doing at all levels is totally removing our freedom. We are no longer the home of the free and the land of the brave. We are being told that we don’t have sense enough to know how to live every day life or run our business.
As a matter of fact I believe that the restrictions that are being imposed on us are a blatant violation of our constitutional rights. Where is it in the Constitution that our elected officials are given the right to arbitrarily pronounce laws that can force us to wear masks, stay-at-home, not get within 6 feet of anyone else.
And worst of all you can’t go to church and worship. Maybe this July 4th we should have a memorial service rather than a freedom celebration.
Children, other groups can spread coronavirus
In response to Dave Heyliger’s letter of May 11, I submit the following: Although the elderly, immune-compromised, and others with underlying conditions are some of the most vulnerable to COVID-19, his suggestion to focus the lockdown mainly on such folks ignores the fact that children and other groups can be infected and spread the virus. Some of these people may be asymptomatic, but can still transmit the virus. Until more testing is widely available, we really don’t know who has the virus. Results from other countries, such as South Korea, clearly show that lockdowns, testing and social distancing prevent and reduce the spread of the virus. Unfortunately coronavirus infections and deaths are still increasing in this and many other countries, with over 80,000 deaths so far in the U.S.
Heyliger states that the “government-run debacle is based on fear.” Actually, the shut-downs are based on scientific knowledge from epidemiologists and virologists about how the coronavirus is spread, not fear! Leaving it to individuals to make their own decisions regarding social distancing would be based on opinion, not on facts generated by science.
If one exercised their individual freedom during this pandemic, as he suggests, this would occur at the expense of others, and it would be dangerous for our society as a whole. We all cherish our freedom, but without restrictions aimed at reducing human to human contact we will all have the freedom to contract COVID-19, infect others, and possibly die from it.
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