On the 13th of March’20, President Donald Trump addressed a news conference about coronavirus in the White House in Washington. He declared a national state of emergency, which in turn will give the U.S. states and territories access to up to 50 billion dollars to combat the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. This means physical distancing is a must. Trump has also made it easier for public health authorities to waive regulations that might impede providers’ ability to respond to the virus. Furthermore, he has put a 30-day ban on travel from Europe.
Daniel Aldrich, director of the Security and Resilience Studies program at Northeastern University, believes that the emergency should have been declared about 2 months ago since the first Wuhan spike actually came in December’19. It also implies that the government hasn’t been doing anything between January and March. Also, these measures do not tell the people about what should be done now with the disease spreading throughout the country. Compared to other countries, the U.S. has been really slow in taking action since a lot of them had already implemented fever checks at borders. According to Aldrich, physical distancing should have been already adopted. This means cities and towns should have already shut down schools, theatres, public events, and sporting events because timing is very crucial here. He cites data from the deadly influenza epidemic that swept the St. Louis and Pittsburgh regions in the year 1918. It showed that when those two cities moved at different rates, the number of casualties was completely predictable. The later they moved to have physical distancing, the more casualties they had. Physical distancing is key to slowing the spread of the virus but as schools close and events are cancelled or postponed, you shouldn’t cut yourself off from the community. In fact, we need just the opposite.
“We need physical distancing and social connectedness. During all kinds of disasters, the people who die are not those who are vulnerable. The people who die are vulnerable and isolated. It is not vulnerability by itself that determines the outcome of this or other disasters. It is the combination of vulnerability and lack of access to information, lack of access to resources, lack of access to emotional and physical support. That is what’s going to kill people”, said Aldrich.
Shahjadi Jemim Rahman