Letter to the editor: Coronavirus is not Democrats’ ‘new hoax’

By LEE D. VAN LANDUYT | Hillsboro

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “The coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a serious new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.”

Coronaviruses are transmitted between animals and people and now from person to person. Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath, and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.

WHO and all world leaders became aware of this new virus in December 2019. Since that time, Johns Hopkins University has reported that coronavirus has infected 102,242 persons worldwide with 3,497 deaths. The mortality average rate, according to WHO, is above 3.4 percent. The U.S. currently has 326 cases in 25 states, with 15 deaths as of this writing, March 6. Testing for the coronavirus in this country has been essentially nonexistent, and any viable vaccine will not be available for at least 12 to 18 months, according to both private and government scientists.

A well-managed bureaucracy matters. Without it, there’s nothing to manage the alphabet soup of agencies housed in departments ranging from Defense to Commerce, Homeland Security to Health and Human Services (HHS). Federal, state, county and local governments depend on one another to provide necessary services to citizens — that pesky socialism in action to benefit all citizens.

Our federal health infrastructure, created to protect us during pandemics and other health emergencies, has been greatly diminished by the current president. In the spring of 2018, the president pushed Congress to cut funding for Obama-era “disease security programs,” proposing to eliminate $252 million in previously committed resources for rebuilding health systems in Ebola-ravaged Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea because diseases know no borders and put Americans at risk. Under fire from both sides of the aisle, President Trump finally dropped his demand to eliminate Ebola funds a month later. But other presidential efforts included reducing $15 billion in national health spending and cutting the global disease-fighting operational budgets of the CDC, NSC, DHS, and HHS. And he eliminated the government’s $30 million Complex Crises Fund. All of these budget cuts are coming home to roost now that we face this new worldwide health crisis.

This is just the beginning of this serious pandemic. Our president and all other world leaders have been aware of this for three months. Other leaders have taken action, but our administration has done precious little to plan and mobilize for this new pandemic, knowing the risks it posed to American citizens, especially our most vulnerable. On Feb. 2,8 President Trump said on live TV, “It’s (the coronavirus) going to disappear. One day it’s like a miracle; it will disappear,” he continued by saying the situation could “get worse before it gets better,” and saying the virus will “maybe go away.”

This is not the time for imaginary thinking. It is not the time for lies, alternative facts, or half-truths. It is not the time to falsely describe the coronavirus as the Democrats’ “new hoax,” as he did at a political rally on Feb. 28 in South Carolina. It is time he shows he is the president of all the people. It’s time he reassembles the experts he fired. It is time the administration shares all of the facts. We all need to be on the same page and work together. True leadership on his part is badly needed. The question is: “Is he up to this task?” We’ll see.

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