Why US has one of the worst coronavirus handlings
On the eve of the 2020 presidential election (2020–11–02), the US’ coronavirus mortality rate is among the top 5% in the world.
Yes, China was responsible for the initial spread of the virus — possible accidental lab leak of the virus, suppression of early infection information, allowing international traffic out of the initial epicenter Wuhan, and strong opposition to travel restrictions on China through its controlled WHO.
The responses of Taiwan, S. Korea, Japan, etc. and the early responses of Czechia, Germany, Slovakia, etc. have shown the coronavirus can be controlled at a low burning level without draconian lockdowns. If properly handled, the coronavirus can be controlled to a level equivalent to superflu with total fatalities below 100K instead of marching toward 300K.
The US has done a lot of great things in dealing with the coronavirus, but handling the virus properly demands the right action in every step.
The following is a brief history of how the US has got here:
1. Trump’s travel ban on China based on his instinct is remarkable. It likely bought the US weeks of time.
2. Unfortunately, all the bought time has been wasted by the testing kit fiasco resulted from bureaucracies and turf wars. The US was kept in the dark during the initial critical infection phase.
3. Trump’s initial instinct about masking was right again. The federal health officials made the grave mistake of opposing mask-wearing vehemently. That mistake set the stage for masking politicizing later.
4. The fed officials reluctantly endorsed face-covering in April when most of the fatalities in epicenters such as the NYC tri-state area, Greater Boston had already happened or been baked in. The politicizing of face-covering that results in poor compliance of this most effective measure against the coronavirus would retain through the entire pandemic.
5. The US made another grave mistake of locking down the country for a month and a half thought it was understandable then because evidence from China made many believe lockdown works. It is clear now that the coronavirus can be controlled without lockdowns.
6. The US did an excellent job in mobilizing private sectors to ramp up testing kit production, PPE production, ventilator production, and rapid setup of COVID hospitals from non-hospital venues.
7. When the coronavirus was getting under control and the summer weather started benefiting the control, the BLM protests caused a surge in some states because a. the large gatherings violating COVID restrictions encouraged complacency and defiance; b. endorsement of the BLM protests further eroded the credibility of the fed health officials.
8. The successful experiences of Arizona, Texas, Florida to bring down the early summer surge shows the coronavirus can be controlled without massive lockdowns. Prohibiting indoor gatherings where face-covering is impossible may be the most drastic measure that needs to be taken.
9. Though Trump is never anti-mask, but few face coverings in his White House or at events held there effectively sends a clear message to his large number of loyal followers that face-covering does not matter.
10. Trump’s message after his quick recovery from the coronavirus contraction with the effective cocktail of antibodies has solidified the complacency of his loyal followers. I have been to businesses where they have “No Mask, No Service” on their doors, but inside their premises, even their employees do not bother to cover their faces.
11. Monoclonal antibodies are inherently safe and have a high potential for efficacy. If the administration had used to Defense Production Act in the spring to boost their production, there would have been mass production of them by the fall when they were shown to reduce the mortality rate by an order of magnitude make the coronavirus to something equivalent to light flu.
In summary, poor face-covering compliance due to health official’s initial strong opposition, the erosion of their credibility as a result of their hypocrisy related to mass protests, and the president’s implicit discouragement result in the US’s poor handling of the coronavirus.