Letter to the Editor

Without national leadership

Monday, April 20, 2020

This pandemic is unprecedented only if all prior ones and expert reports/warnings are ignored. Given that, no organization (city, county, state, federal) would be expected to spend billions on supplies/staff to sit idle until the next pandemic (and there will be one). Without national leadership, President Donald Trump left governors/mayors on their own to fight for supplies with other countries and even with our own country.

The federal task force is seizing purchased supplies from states/cities before delivery if the material falls under the category of critical medical items that can be seized under the defense production act. Remember Jared Kushner stated they’re “our supplies, not the states”? Those supplies are then sent to favored trump states, not based on need. Florida’s request was fully filled in three days. Other states got only slivers of their requests fulfilled, despite asking for them before Florida. Oregon and Oklahoma received only about 10%; New Jersey got less than 6%.

Trump’s tactic of making statements then denying them, of proclaiming definitive actions immediately followed by ifs/ands/buts/maybes in the same breath, allows him to cherry pick statements to refer to in support of his needed defense at any given time. Please don’t fall for this. He’s constantly searching for and setting up scapegoats to blame for his failures. Most recently The World Health Organization. On March 13 he said “I don’t take responsibility at all.” though the office demands it. Please, pay no attention to him or his terrible flip flopping advice! The governors/mayors (both Republican and Democratic) figured this out weeks ago, thank God.

Spencer Hospital has eight ICU beds and 10 ventilators which impressed me. But those are for all medical cases, they aren’t reserved for COVID-19 or just Spencer residents. How easy it would be to be overwhelmed during a hot spot outbreak. Pray it doesn’t happen.

Here’s some pertinent timeline items:

Jan. 3 — Chinese colleagues alert the CDC director about the virus. Not “leaked” out of China.

Jan. 9 — China publicly identifies new “pneumonia-like” virus.

Jan. 18 — Alex Azar tries to speak to trump about the outbreak for the first time. Trump ignores the warning.

Jan. 21 — First COVID-19 case in U.S. Same as South Korea who’s aggressive testing and tight restrictions have limited their deaths/1 million population to four. The U.S. is 107.

Jan. 24 — Trump thanks Chinese President Xi Jinping for his transparency and effort in tackling the coronavirus.

Jan. 30 — WHO declared a global health emergency. Trump states the U.S. has the virus “under control” and hosts a campaign rally in Iowa.

Jan. 31 — Most major airlines had already suspended flights to China prior to Trump’s announcement Jan. 31 effective Feb. 2.

Feb. 2 — Trump does not suspend all flights. He suspends entry to the U.S. of “immigrants or nonimmigrants, of all aliens who were physically present within the People’s Republic of China.” Exemptions allow tens of thousands to enter. Since Jan. 1, nearly 40,000 Americans/authorized travelers made the trip between the two countries. While travel restrictions helped to slow the spread, the virus was already here and immediate action was necessitated but didn’t occur for six weeks.

Feb. 29 — First U.S. death. Since March 31 U.S. deaths are about 1,000 to 2,000 a day with no end in sight.

Jan. 9 to March 7 — Trump hosts nine rallies, golfed six times.

Jan. 31 to March 13 — No meaningful action from Trump, just lip service.

March 13 — Trump declares national emergency. Every state/city is still on its own, which is why states deem it necessary to form regional coalitions to deal with the pandemic.

The only benefit now of discussing past omissions/failures are to recognize/accept the current conditions we need to deal with. There is no federal oversight/coordination, no vaccine, no herd immunity, no treatment, no cure. Not getting/spreading the infection is the only defense. Wear a mask, social distance, wash your hands, don’t touch your face, stay home if you feel sick.

It can never be said enough: many, many thanks to first responders, government officials taking this seriously, volunteers doing all they can as always, family/friends/neighbors helping each other out, employers stepping up when they can by helping employees told they can’t work, essential workers still doing their jobs to keep life as normal as possible. Bless you all! Stay safe and healthy!

— Diane Smith, Spencer