We’ll Always Have Paris—But Not Right Now


Leonard Zwelling

         After President Trump successfully ran on a platform aimed at keeping foreigners out of the United States, it is truly ironic that his decision-making surrounding the coronavirus has now led to Americans being kept out of Europe. Rwandans are welcomed in Europe. Americans are not. The Europeans simply view Americans as being too great a risk to their own populations when it comes to the contagion that is the novel coronavirus. In essence, the European numbers are all coming down while ours continue to rise. That recent rise in positive testing results is not due to the fact that more testing is being done. If that were the case, the percent positivity rate would be stable. It’s not. It’s rising to as much as 30% in Arizona. Furthermore, these latest numbers are being driven by disease in the younger age group. This is good on one hand as those under 50 seem to do better with the virus, but they are also the source of disease in the elderly and not wearing a mask and not social distancing as many younger Americans are doing at bars and beaches is simply irresponsible and selfish. Is it any wonder Europe does not want us in? Is it any wonder why California has shut down again? But it’s no wonder why Georgia, Florida, Texas and Arizona continue to suffer. Poor leadership is leading to an overwhelmed medical system and far too many cases of covid-19.

         I have not been inconvenienced in any major way by the virus except for the fact that I cannot leave Houston, by plane (too risky) or car (I’m not staying at a hotel). Nonetheless, the thought that I cannot get to the places I wanted to, including Europe, is depressing. What is really depressing is not only that the United States has done such a poor job controlling the virus, but that the Trump Administration continues to say how well it has done “saving lives.” Hogwash. The United States has not had a coordinated plan with leadership at the national level as have many other countries in the world.

         The major blame for the situation facing the world goes to China which could have contained this virus early this year, but chose not to. Now the leadership in many countries around the world has used strategies of containment and mitigation to minimize the effects of the virus while America has spread it everywhere—from sea to shining sea. Thus, the numbers in Europe are coming down fast enough to allow for soft openings with safety while the numbers in the U.S. stay high and things are just getting worse with openings in states that have not achieved the milestones for opening suggested by the CDC. Goodness knows how school districts resolve this dilemma.

         In every way, American exceptionalism when it comes to coronavirus has been to lead the world in cases and deaths. We have been devoid of meaningful leadership at the federal level and many states led by Republicans have made a mess by the governors’ insistence on opening their economies and doing so too quickly. The hospital systems in Florida, Texas and Arizona are all under pressure and even if there are enough beds and PPE, the personnel is running out of gas trying to make up for the irresponsible behavior of their fellow citizens.

         If for no other reason that to protect the well-being of doctors and nurses, let alone allowing the continuation of elective surgery which may be stopping again in some states, wear a mask, social distance, wash your hands. The steps are simple. Do them if you ever want to see the Eiffel Tower again.

Leonard Zwelling