On the subject of coronavirus.

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Last week in this space I asked the question of Democrats, “What is your coronavirus plan?”  That question was asked rhetorically in the wake of blistering partisan criticism of the Trump administration and its decisions made and actions taken – and not taken – since the world learned of the outbreak of an all new virus in China in January of this year.

The premise of last week’s piece is that no matter what the Trump administration does in response to the growing worldwide health and economic effects of the coronavirus, it will be criticized by his political opponents and in the media as either too much or too little – as it suits the convenience of the moment.

I stand by that assertion.

A lot has happened since last week’s visit – little of it good. The National Basketball Association and the National Hockey League have both suspended play in their leagues for the balance of the season. The NCAA’s Final Four basketball tournament has been cancelled. Major universities have ordered students to vacate campuses.

Major public events have been cancelled. An example close to home is Austin’s South by Southwest, an annual music, film and multimedia festival that draws over 200,000 people and has an estimated economic impact equal to that of a Super Bowl.

Companies have told employees to work from home. Thousands of meetings, seminars and conferences have been cancelled.

The travel industry has been devastated. One cruise line has cancelled all sailings. The airlines have been hammered. Across many industries, layoffs have begun.

And, of course, there’s the market. As of this writing, the Dow has lost 28 percent of its value since its record close just one month ago today.

We could go on. Suffice to say that market and public reaction to this new outbreak has been orders of magnitude more profound than what we witnessed with outbreaks such as SARS, MERS and the H1N1 influenza outbreak of 2009.

Thus, the question begs, is this massive reaction appropriate? Is it warranted by the facts? And the answer is, ‘Perhaps so. Perhaps not. But we just don’t know.’

But here’s what we do know. First, the H1N1 virus of 2009 killed huge numbers of people in the United States and worldwide and it did so rather quickly. But, H1N1 had the virtue of being an influenza virus. It was a form – albeit a particularly nasty form – of the flu. Flu is something that doctors, scientists and researchers understand.

This coronavirus is not a flu. It’s what clinicians call a novel virus – which is to say, all-new. Until it has been around long enough to be as well-understood as the flu, it will be scary.

Second, though it has a fairly mild effect on most patients – many actually never know that they’re infected – that virtue is negated by the fact that it is very contagious.

Third, it causes pulmonary illness. It affects the lungs. That means that people with compromised immune systems and chronic conditions like COPD might not be able to fight it off. Older people are at particular risk.

And fourth, common sense is a virtue. We’re being told to be diligent in washing our hands. We’re reminded to cough into our elbows and to cover our sneezes. Employers are telling workers that have symptoms like cough and fever to stay home.

These are things we should always do. It shouldn’t take a pandemic to remind us.

Common sense is a virtue when it comes to public policy as well. Having seen how disease can spread, and wreak social and economic havoc, not having operational control of the nation’s borders becomes positively indefensible.

Equally indefensible is allowing ourselves to become dependent on a hostile power like China for 80-plus percent of our antibiotics. Nuclear bombs are strategic weapons. So, it appears now, is amoxycillin.

It has been a rough week but here’s the good news. We’ll get through this. And we’ll be smarter and we’ll be stronger for having done so.

Paul Gleiser

Paul L. Gleiser is president of Gleiser Communications, LLC, licensee of radio stations KTBB 97.5 FM/AM600, 92.1 The Team FM & KYZS in Tyler-Longview, Texas.

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13 Responses

  1. Well said, amigo. If only Rush Limbaugh shared your commonsense want to depoliticize this.

    • Paul Gleiser says:

      If only those who are going to find fault with any response by the Trump administration no matter what shared my commonsense desire to depoliticize this. If they did, which they won’t, it would instantly be depoliticized.

    • C M Solomon says:

      Rush simply replays the politicized comments of the Left (Hyper-Democrats and their Media megaphone partners) to make his points. I listened to his every word and YOU are politicizing his comments, yourself. He ALWAYS and ONLY uses the depraved comments of your team as examples of the unwarranted criticism of Trump by EXAMPLE. Your hypocritical attitude is showing; you need to adopt a new strategy of misinformation. I can see through your habitual repetition of the obvious Democrat talking points on almost ALL subjects discussed here! The depoliticizing will begin when your Democrats treat Trump as a DULY elected President and stop the obvious fretting and revenge for the loss of Hillary (your Marxist Queen). Trump has been verbally Lynched by the Left since he was nominated, and yet, he is able to prevail over incredible obstacles of hatred.

      • January 22: “We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China. It’s going to be just fine.”

        February 24: “The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA.”

        February 25: “I think that’s a problem that’s going to go away… They have studied it. They know very much. In fact, we’re very close to a vaccine.”

        February 26: “The 15 (cases in the US) within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero.”

        February 27: “One day it’s like a miracle, it will disappear.”

        March 2: “A lot of things are happening, a lot of very exciting things are happening and they’re happening very rapidly.”

        March 4: “If we have thousands or hundreds of thousands of people that get better just by, you know, sitting around and even going to work — some of them go to work, but they get better.”

        March 5: “The United States… has, as of now, only 129 cases… and 11 deaths. We are working very hard to keep these numbers as low as possible!”

        March 6: “I think we’re doing a really good job in this country at keeping it down… a tremendous job at keeping it down.”

        March 6: “Anybody right now, and yesterday, anybody that needs a test gets a test. They’re there. And the tests are beautiful…. the tests are all perfect like the letter was perfect. The transcription was perfect. Right? This was not as perfect as that but pretty good.”

        March 6: “I like this stuff. I really get it. People are surprised that I understand it… Every one of these doctors said, ‘How do you know so much about this?’ Maybe I have a natural ability. Maybe I should have done that instead of running for president.”

        March 6: “I don’t need to have the numbers double because of one ship that wasn’t our fault.”

        March 8: “We have a perfectly coordinated and fine tuned plan at the White House for our attack on CoronaVirus.”

        March 9: “This blindsided the world.”

        March 11: “We’re having to fix a problem that four weeks ago nobody ever thought would be a problem.”

        March 13: “I don’t take any responsibility at all.”

        Yesterday: “I felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic.”

        • C M Solomon says:

          I love it when you cherry pick Trump’s statements over an eight (8) week period (starting with Jan. 22) but fail to credit him for his decisive action on January 31, nine (9) days later. Quoting from the NYT on 1/31/20, “Moving to counter the spreading coronavirus outbreak, the Trump administration said Friday that it would bar entry by most foreign nationals who had recently visited China and put some American travelers under quarantine as it declared a rare public health emergency”. The death toll in China had reached 259 on this date. Your “Dem steno” talent [thanks Ron Eagleman] should contrast this to the well-starched and creased empty suit known as Barack Hussein Obama.

          Don’t you know that while American health officials declared a public health emergency in April of 2009, it wasn’t until 4 MONTHS LATER in October, that your President Obama (former community organizer, friend of retired terrorists, and part-time novice Senator from Illinois) FINALLY declared the H1N1 (swine) flu a national EMERGENCY? Since the H1N1 flu PANDEMIC began in April of 2009, MILLIONS of people in the United States had been infected, at least 20,000 had been hospitalized and more than 1,000 DIED.

          I will take Trump’s short-term opinions and quick action any day to the inaction of your Obama HERO. Why do our Marxist Democrat friends condemn Trump so quickly (given his track record) and yet praise the idolized Obama lifeless statue of inaction that can read a teleprompter and mispronounce the word “Corps”? The lesson here is that Democrats in high government power can be a risk to your health if allowed to run the country as incompetent fools with NO practical real-world experience as productive citizens with the tangible results to prove it.

        • Paul Gleiser says:

          What you have here is effectively a thread.

          It might be instructive to follow this one:

          https://twitter.com/lyndseyfifield/status/1240761466216734721?s=20

  2. Ron Eagleman says:

    This is a well-summarized description of the Coronavirus pandemic and its disturbing effects on our economy and daily life. I think that the last paragraph contains the most important pearl of the opinion piece, and may ultimately be the positive takeaway of this tragedy……….but only if our government will learn from this difficult lesson. How we could become so dependent on another country, even if it is not authoritarian, is beyond belief! All critical products, including, but not limited to medical and pharmaceutical products need to be manufactured in this country as soon as possible. We must be independent of the whims of any country, no matter how friendly they seem to be now; our foreign policy should be formulated without intimidation. It appears that we are now energy independent, even though there has been a lot of opposition from the left. Without being too political, thank you President Trump and the petroleum industry. One final thought….we should be extremely alarmed at the ease of creating this devastating assault on our economy and thus our security. If another virus can be developed with an incubation period that allows entry into our country with an apparently healthy carrier, but is highly transmissible in the asymptomatic phase, what then? I am sure that those who want to harm us are watching this very closely. A similar tactic with an even more virulent microbe would seem to be the most effective tool in the terrorism tool box.

    • C M Solomon says:

      The Chinese are notorious for playing around with biological manipulation of viruses and animal DNA (maybe even humans). They are well known for stealing technology from any source without understanding the underlying creative research that developed it. Therefore, they will recklessly try to duplicate it (Chinese copy) with the tremendous possibility of devastating consequences to the whole world due to their lack of sophistication and care.

      Remember, that our desire to modernize their culture and bring them into the non-Communist world was predicated by giving them manufacturing rights in exchange for low manufacturing cost while they insisted on taking our underlying secrets of how things work in order to catch up and surpass our creative advantage? The Communists will never accept the fact that the Creativity of the human spirit can not flourish in a dictatorial, bureaucratic regime where the human being is nothing more than a slave of the State. This is something that the Democrats ought to know by now, but will ALSO never understand given their insatiable lust for power to control and limit our individual affairs via their idolization and definition of “social justice” at the expense of Liberty.

  3. With Mnuchin’s “Let’s worry about the deficit later” as The Swamp’s printing press sends billions to airlines and cruise lines and others Too Big To Fail — and thousand dollar rubber checks to the rest of us — IT WILL BE refreshing to hear less political whining-about the GM bailout and “The Stimulus That Didn’t Stimulate” back when THAT infusion kept The Great Recession from becoming The Great Depression and tee’d up a 12 year Bull Market.

    When Trump’s up for it, all this Socialism is just ducky.

    And Mexico won’t pay for it.

  4. Ron Eagleman says:

    Solomon’s post is proverbial (pun intended). As he points out, it is extremely dangerous to allow careful and refereed research to get into the hands of an incompetent authoritarian regime; which does not value the health of their own citizens, much less the rest of the world. If a very biased myopic cannot look at the USMCA trade agreement and understand that Mexico is indeed going to pay for the wall, nothing will ever overcome the myopia. Yep, the “Obiden/Bama” administration teed up the bull market. Eliminating a ton of suffocating federal regulations and the tax relief had nothing to do with the remarkable recovery from eight years of stagnation. Why doesn’t the Dem steno mention the former president’s admonition: (to paraphrase:) “those manufacturing jobs are not coming back; what does he think he has…..a magic wand?” Amazing……simply amazing…..but not altogether surprising!

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