Easter was, perhaps, a bridge too far – or in this case, a bridge too near – for a return to normality after the U.S. Coronavirus outbreak. Acting on the advice of the experts, which is something his detractors often accuse him of refusing to do, President Donald Trump on March 29 extended “social distancing” guidelines until April 30. “Nothing would be worse than declaring victory before the victory is won,” the president remarked during a White House press conference.
“On Tuesday,” Trump continued, “we will be finalizing these plans and providing a summary of our findings, supporting data and strategy to the American people.”
Numbers Show Faster Infection Rate
There has been much skepticism about the president’s earlier projection that the guidelines laid down to slow the spread of COVID-19 could be relaxed by mid-April. Initially, the White House had proposed a 15-day period of social distancing to mitigate the rate of infection. That period expired on March 30, with the numbers still moving in the wrong direction.
As of March 29, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had put the total number of U.S. cases – confirmed and presumptive – at 122,653. The number of deaths now stands at 2,112. Those numbers will be updated again on March 30. The hardest-hit states are New York and New Jersey.
The spread of COVID-19 has gathered pace, despite the many restrictions on public interaction imposed by most states. The number of cases in the U.S. topped 1000 on March 11 and, by March 14, had surpassed 2,200. From that point on, the number of infected has increased exponentially, from less than 7,000 on March 25 to more than 10,300 by March 27.
Describing the modeling he had been shown, the president advised that the death rate would likely peak in about two weeks – around April 15. Trump expressed hope that things would be on the road to recovery within a few weeks after that projected apex. “We can expect that by June 1st, we will be well on our way to recovery,” he told reporters, “we think by June 1st, a lot of great things will be happening.”
Trump’s political and media critics have constantly berated him for his optimism – almost demanding he does as they themselves have done for the past few weeks, which is spread panic, doom, and gloom. That is not the job of the commander in chief, though. It is not the job of any leader, in any industry or field of endeavor, to fill those who look to them for direction with fear and dread. The adage “hope for the best and prepare for the worst” never loses its meaning. A good leader always does both.
The plan, of course, is clear: make life as miserable as possible for as many Americans as possible and then try to tell them their misery is Trump’s fault. Judging by the president’s recent approval ratings, that strategy is not working.
Extremely Low Risk For Most
If Democrats and their media stooges cared as much about the American people as they do about removing the president from office, they would perhaps show some class and encourage people to have hope for the future. There is no getting away from the fact that hundreds of thousands of Coronavirus infections, within a short time-frame, would overwhelm health care systems and first responders to an intolerable degree. For that reason, precautions must be taken until the rate of infection slows.
The fact is, though, COVID-19 is extremely survivable for the majority of people. The elderly and those with certain pre-existing health issues are at far higher risk than younger and generally healthy people. According to numbers compiled by the World Health Organization (WHO), the probability of dying from a COVID-19 infection is 0.2% for everyone under 39 years of age (assuming no major health issues). For those aged between 40 and 59, that number ranges from 0.4% to 1.3%. For those in their 60s, the probability of death is 3.6%, and then it is upwards of 8% for people aged 70 and above.
The bottom line, then, is that people younger than 60 with no serious, pre-existing health problems are extremely unlikely to die as a result of contracting this virus.
Trump’s optimism can and should be tempered with facts and on-the-ground reality but to harangue him constantly for trying to keep people’s spirits up betrays a certain meanness in those who do it. To prematurely declare victory in this battle would be folly indeed, but Trump’s critics should perhaps decide on which side they want to fight.
Read more from Graham J. Noble.
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