Most of us know the story by now about how the U.S. got caught flat-footed on coronavirus. Despite a potential two month head start, we didn’t have the tests. The government would only allow one test – its own – and there weren’t enough. They tried to ramp up production but they sent out defective kits. Tests are still being rationed even as the government relaxes its own rules. There are plenty of tests around the world, we’re just not allowed to use them. If there’s one area where the government’s role is supposed to be undisputed it’s in public health, and here the U.S. has failed.
The conventional wisdom is that we need to ‘flatten the curve’. We need to know who is ill, and where, and we need to isolate those people. And we need to ‘social distance’ limiting large gatherings and staying 6 feet away from other people where possible.
The U.S. is limiting international travel and funneling it through a limited set of airports. That’s supposed to allow them to screen passengers better entering the country. Here the government is failing too, and possibly making things worse. (HT: Reid F. and Jonathan W.)
This is the horde of people awaiting health inspections after international flights into @fly2ohare in Chicago. A social-distancing nightmare! (Shared with me by someone in Chicago) pic.twitter.com/hOywwvaWR8
— David Enrich (@davidenrich) March 15, 2020
#BREAKING: Passengers stuck in long lines for immigration at @DFWAirport tell us there are no offers of hand sanitizer, gloves, or masks from U.S. Customs / Immigration. Travelers say they’ve had no screenings of temp yet and no one following #coronavirus protocols. pic.twitter.com/9viCnWdncz
— Jason Whitely (@JasonWhitely) March 15, 2020
— jake vinson (@vjake20) March 15, 2020
The virus is already here and spreading. We don’t know how badly because we are keeping out foreign tests. Our solution to that appears to be keeping out foreigners and forcing everyone in close proximity to each other to encourage spread.
Don’t lay this at the feet of budget cuts either. If you’re claiming that the CDC’s budget was cut that’s actually wrong. More importantly U.S. immigration and customs lines aren’t being managed by the CDC. If there’s one area you can’t argue there’s been starving off of resources in recent years it’s at the borders.