Now that we’re nearly two months into the worldwide coronavirus crisis, you would think that the authorities would have a handle on how to prepare against the virus. But, in the United States at least, you’d be mistaken.
Numerous stories from those who have traveled from abroad highlight the stark differences in treatment of the virus between countries like China and countries like the US. While no one wants to see Chinese-style quarantines happening here, at least the authorities took pains to limit the virus’ spread. Here in the US, it seems that potential victims were held together in close quarters, government workers sent to assess them weren’t properly protected against transmission, and everything the government did only encouraged the spread of the virus.
Then there’s the debacle surrounding coronavirus testing. With so many people having potentially been exposed to those with coronavirus, you would think that there would be a testing protocol already in place, or quick, easy tests ready to go. Not so. Here again, anecdotal reports indicate that anyone wanting to get tested for the coronavirus is turned away unless they’re showing really severe signs, by which time it may be too late to treat them.
In other words, the prevailing approach seems to be, assume you don’t have it, only present yourself if you’re deathly ill, and otherwise ignore that the virus exists. And that’s how you get superspreaders potentially infecting people.
Whether it’s infected people commuting to work on public transit, traveling by Amtrak, or greeting people at church, the US response to coronavirus has been, to put it mildly, lackluster. For all we know the virus may have already been here for months, silently spreading. Hundreds of thousands of people may now be infected, many of them unknowingly. While that would ultimately speak to how weak the coronavirus really is, it wouldn’t do anything do make anyone feel confident in government and health authorities’ abilities to keep anyone safe in the event of a really devastating pandemic illness.