President Trump is pressing to accelerate reopening of the American economy. He is predictably taking heat from congressional Democrats, governors, and media. A hard look at facts tells us three important things. Medical knowledge around COVID-19 remains in flux, economic damage is significant and will accelerate, and “climbing down off this tiger” will be harder than riding or being far away.
On medical flux, newness of this COVID-19 disease continues to raise stunning questions, causing doctors to double back, and flummoxing those trying to nail down facts – and to reopen the economy.
In China, Europe and America, virus testing was slow to start, covered a minority of those exposed and later afflicted. Tests proved inaccurate, lagged, and were overtaken by death. Older populations died in large numbers without being tested.
From China, data was untruthful – for reasons seemingly political. Manipulation by Communist China delayed global actions. The virus apparently jumped bats to humans, and first appeared in Wuhan – close to China’s Wuhan Virology Institute (WVI), a locus of Chinese experiments on bat viruses. Notably, contrary to popular misconception, bats are not commonly eaten in that part of China or Wuhan.
Corroborating reports suggest the virus may have escaped WVI through an infected technician, making its first public appearance on or near November 17, 2019. (See https://www.livescience.com/first-case-coronavirus-found.html).
Curiously, China destroyed virus samples collected for testing, which would have proven the strain’s origin. They halted domestic flights but kept international running. When Chinese doctors raised alarm, they were silenced. China denied the existence, virulence, and spread of the virus – until too late.
By the time China closed Wuhan, the virus was replicating globally. In retrospect, we learned China enlisted the World Health Organization to promulgate a false story – reassurance that China was transparent, virus under control, not easily transmissible, not particularly dangerous. All false.
For vital weeks, China and WHO lied to the world, producing this pandemic. The disease originated earlier than admitted, was three times easier to transmit than flu, far more deadly than China acknowledged. China raised by 50 percent the dead – only third week of April.
While President Trump restricted travel from China in late January, Europe and Canada did not. When Trump closed flights from Europe, he was excoriated by Democrats and media – for having overreacted.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi publicly encouraged people to ignore the President’s warnings and to gather in late February – a website post she has removed. Trump continued to discourage gatherings. With respect for the Constitution, he asked states to lead enforcement, refusing to usurp state powers.
Today, the disease continues to baffle doctors, with a new problem – scarce antibody tests. No presidents – or governor – in US history would have had ample virus or antibody tests. The Chinese-origin virus, coupled with denial and deception about spread and lethality, were not foreseen.
Finally, on the medical front, we know antibody testing suggests a third of Americans may have had the disease – at least in key areas. Most recover without incident. Research indicates infections be 85 times higher than estimated. On the plus side, that would allow more recovered Americans to work without risk to themselves or others. On the minus side, it may mean a lot of asymptomatic carriers. (See www.foxnews.com/health/coronavirus-antibody-testing-finds-bay-area-infections-85-times-higher-reported-researchers).
The main point is that, as we slow transmissions by social distancing, the end may be closer than we thought. More may have gotten over the virus than we knew, allowing a swift return to work. We will need near-universal antibody testing to know.
Point two – we are suffering enormous economic damage every day. The President is right – we need to start working, for the sake of income and public health. Incredibly, congressional Democrats again punched America in the gut. First Nancy Pelosi delayed creation of the SBA’s Payment Protection Program (PPP), hoping to stuff it with socialist priorities.
Then, when SBA’s life-saving PPP program ran dry last week, she blocked infusion of $250 billion dollars to save America’s 25 million suffering small businesses. They also account for 80 percent of our jobs.
When House Republicans suggested allowing hospital money, she said no. She wants more anti-banking, pro- socialist priorities in the bill. At this writing, America’s small businesses – in every single state – are failing, while this multi-millionaire House Speaker works to stuff entitlements, minority funding, and federal regulations into the bill. Calling it a “stunt,” she doubts businesses are failing. (www.washingtontimes.com/news/2020/apr/9/nancy-pelosi-slams-gop-vote-250-billion-small-busi/).
To be clear – this is the biggest hit the US economy has taken since many key indicators started being collected. If the goal is to keep the economy down to hurt Trump, that is unconscionable.
Last point: “Climbing down off the tiger” will be hard. The President has thoughtfully advanced a three-phase process for reopening our economy. Obviously, that depends on Congress coming around. It also depends on governors assessing the balance of coronavirus risk against shutdown health risks.
Historic data suggest economic downturns, especially sudden, deep and unpredicted, produce spikes in personal stress, heart attacks, cancer deaths, domestic abuse, drug abuse, suicides, and other causes of physical harm. Reduced health and increased death correlate also with poverty.
In short, there is a trade-off between stopping the last coronavirus death – which Democrats insist Trump must do – and stopping increased death from the economic downturn, a dead economy.
The President is constitutionally right to defer reopening to governors, but he is also right to encourage it soon, not later. Would this affect Trump’s reelection? Who cares? Main mission is saving America – which can only be done reopening our economy, as soon as possible.
Time for critics to think bigger. Rural and less-hard-hit counties will likely open soon, creating pressure on adjoining counties and states. Wearing masks may be advisable for some time. As more medical and economic data comes in, the balance is surely tipping toward reopening – not staying on this tiger. President Trump is right to accelerate reopening.