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The Media Wants You to Panic Over COVID-19, But Trump Isn’t Panicking.

Just because the president isn't panicking over COVID-19, and the media is criticizing him for not panicking, doesn't mean he's wrong. You should not panic. Let the professionals do their jobs, and stay away from places where the virus has spread. And don't listen to the media's howls.

Six weeks ago, we were told that Coronavirus was just a local outbreak in Wuhan, China, because some live bats were being prepared in street “wet markets.” President Trump reacted by having Americans evacuated from China, and agreeing with airlines that travel should be curtailed. The media skewered the president for sowing panic and fear.

Now everyone is panicking because the outbreak has metastasized well beyond China, into Italy, South Korea, and Iran. We’re being told by the CDC to prepare for disruption.

“We really want to prepare the American public for the possibility that their lives will be disrupted because of this pandemic,” Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told reporters.

Coronavirus update: 80,238 cases, 2,700 deaths; CDC warns Americans to prepare for disruption, MarketWatch, February 25, 2020

Believe it or not, President Trump is pretty well-briefed on what the government (and governments around the world) is doing to contain and get ahead of COVID-19’s spread. Believe it or not, Trump’s response to the disease from Day One has been pretty good, and if it had been Barack Obama in the White House, the media might even say it was “perfect.”

And contrary to the “disruption” warning the media has latched onto, the CDC is making pretty good progress. They haven’t begun recommending quarantine for whole cities or restricting domestic travel or anything like that. Just take normal flu precautions: soap and water, stay home if you feel sick.

In fact, we’ve entered a phase of disease control where authorities begin to get ahead of the disease’s spread. NIH is speeding up clinical testing of remdesivir as a treatment.

The first trial participant is an American who was repatriated after being quarantined on the Diamond Princess cruise ship that docked in Yokohama, Japan and volunteered to participate in the study. The study can be adapted to evaluate additional investigative treatments and to enroll participants at other sites in the U.S. and worldwide.

Remdesivir, developed by Gilead Sciences Inc., is an investigational broad-spectrum antiviral treatment. It was previously tested in humans with Ebola virus disease and has shown promise in animal models for treating Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), which are caused by other coronaviruses.

Instead of looking at progress, the media, and Congress, are in fault-finding mode.

“Coronavirus testing kits have not been widely distributed to our hospitals and public health labs. Those without these kits must send samples all the way to Atlanta, rather than testing them on site, wasting precious time as the virus spreads,” said Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.).

A faulty CDC coronavirus test delays monitoring of disease’s spread, Washington Post, feb 25, 2020

It’s hardly proven that the test in question in the headline is “faulty.” It’s simply that we’re moving so fast that hot takes become reality. HHS Secretary Alex Azar denied that the tests were faulty. There just aren’t a lot of them in the U.S. This is sort of proper, wouldn’t you think? The number of cases in the U.S. is exceedingly small: 57 to be exact, which includes patients from the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked in Yokohama, Japan.

How many kits should CDC and NIH send coast to coast here when there are 977 sick and 10 dead in South Korea and 227 sick and six dead in Italy? We should rightly focus on the disease where it’s spreading, not sow panic and fear in America.

The very thing the media accused Trump of doing six weeks ago, they are criticizing him today for not doing, while they freely engage in fear and panic-mongering. Trump has been very even in his response to Coronavirus, furious over the repatriation of Diamond Princess passengers who tested positive for COVID-19.

Curiously, it was Trump’s people from the State and Health departments who made the decision that Trump later considered reckless—a move that raised concerns amongst experts that the administration may not be prepared to handle a health emergency.

Trump’s fury over coronavirus patients being repatriated may be justified, Quartz, Feb 23, 2020

The COVID-19 outbreak was under-reported in China, and therefore it appeared Trump over-reacted. But that reaction turned out to be correct. The disease is far more rampant, and just as deadly (if not more so) than SARS was in 2014.

Now, with over 80,000 cases and 2700 deaths, and a slowly rising mortality rate that could hit 10% or more (depending on how many unresolved cases result in death), everyone wants to panic, but the spread is beginning to slow. Some of this is attributable to countermeasures taken (travel restrictions), some of it to quick action in quarantining known infected persons and tracing their interactions.

In other words, they’re doing what infectious disease professionals do to stop the spread of an outbreak. Those measures, in large part, are effective. But COVID-19 will continue to spread until authorities get “ahead” of it. With treatment options beginning to come online and massive numbers of test kits shipping, you’d be surprised at how fast things can turn.

If we’re “disrupted” at all, it will be because China has a long road to economic recovery. We may have some shortages of iPhones and other consumer goods that are made in China or have Chinese-made components. That’s a First World disruption. Don’t plan on being quarantined in your house, okay?

Just because the president isn’t panicking over COVID-19, and the media is criticizing him for not panicking, doesn’t mean he’s wrong. You should not panic. Let the professionals do their jobs, and stay away from places where the virus has spread. And don’t listen to the media’s howls.

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