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Escapism or China-bashing? US now left without harsh coronavirus options, but with broken healthcare & federal disarray

Escapism or China-bashing? US now left without harsh coronavirus options, but with broken healthcare & federal disarray
Washington’s attempts to tackle Covid-19 appear to be bleak – underestimation of the threat and China-bashing make harsh measures unlikely, as state authorities do what they can to battle the virus, RT has been told.

As of Wednesday, the US has a total of 6,496 confirmed coronavirus cases, including 112 deaths. While the numbers drag behind the worst-affected nations, such as Iran or Italy, the dynamics of the spread appears to be quite alarming – the state of New York alone reported 432 new cases in a single day.

As the disease spreads, the states are rushing to crack down on social contact, ordering closure of public venues and prohibiting mass events. The public, for its part, jumped on panic buying of everything it might possibly need to survive the crisis – like toilet paper and guns.

The federal government’s readiness – or lack thereof – for the outbreak, however, is the subject of heated debate. The refusal to use the WHO-developed coronavirus test kits by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in particular has raised many questions over the US administration’s ability to deal with the pandemic.

Federal authorities in disarray, states on their own

Many deemed the Trump administration’s actions to be “delayed and disjointed and inefficient,” yet it would not be entirely fair to put all the blame on the incumbent administration, Professor of International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh Michael Brenner believes. The healthcare system issues in the US are systemic, which further “exacerbates the situation and magnifies the consequences of the failure of the leadership.”

“The medical services, including the Centers for Disease Control, have been deprived of adequate financial recourses for years now, going back to the financial crisis of 2008. And in the past two years, they’ve had their budgets cut intentionally by the Trump administration,” Brenner told RT, adding that many Trump-appointed officials in the healthcare structures are “utterly incompetent.” 

The whole macrostructure of the system is both a blessing and a curse in this situation, as the states are able at least to act on their own to try and stop the spread without waiting for the federal government to make any decisions.

“In the absence of some sort of simple direction, all of the local and state authorities will have to act themselves. And most of them have done a good job and they are the ones who have taken initiatives,” Brenner said, commending the actions of the states of Washington and New York.

This sort of federal structure can be pointed at as a complicating factor, but in this instance it turned out to be an advantage because they could do things that did not depend on non-existent directives from Washington.

Too late to close borders?

The US appears to be at least “partially prepared” for the crisis, Professor of Preventive Medicine and Infectious Diseases with the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, William Schaffner, believes.

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“The big problem that we have had is the availability of testing and that has been much discussed. Only now are we making testing for coronavirus more widely available throughout the country. That has held us back very substantially,” Schaffner told RT.

Restricting travel from China, for instance, was the right move on the part of the US government, he believes. Using this option again as the hotspot of the virus has seemingly shifted to Europe, however, might not be as useful.

The virus now is so widely distributed in the US and is being spread that closing the borders to Europe now is not very advantageous. It does not provide a major benefit but causes a great deal of social and economic disruption.

Chinese-style crackdown on virus impossible – thanks to MSM & Trump

The state-level attempts to limit social contact are likely the farthest the US will go in trying to stop the outbreak, and it certainly won’t adopt harsh China-like – or, at least, Italy-like – lockdown measures, the experts agree.

“Here in the United states it would be difficult to go much further. And the closures of all the bars and schools etc. are already very, very forceful interventions to support the concept of social distancing,” Schaffner said.

While any nationwide lockdowns would require the federal government to pass new laws, the adoption of Chinese-style measures is even theoretically impossible now, given how much effort was spent by the US mainstream media to bash Beijing for being “authoritarian,” Brenner noted. The repeated downplaying of the Covid-19 threat by President Donald Trump has also made the public even less ready for any harsh measures.

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“Another unfortunate feature of this is the wave of stories going back, which are condemning China for not acting swiftly enough, condemning China for this and that. The New York Times especially runs the campaign releasing strongly negative stories about China every day. And this has been going on since well before the virus. And now when they’ve got control over it, the emphasis is on China using ‘totalitarian’ means,” Brenner said. “The point of these stories is not to inform, it’s to denigrate China. Of course, this is pathological, because it doesn’t give the US any kind of advantage. It’s escapism, it’s avoidance.”

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