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.

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