The USA and India present a case study in starkly contrasting ways in handling the pandemic. While Prime Minister Modi has favoured human lives more than the economy, POTUS Donald Trump has exactly done the opposite and the US is paying for it. The USA has reported more than 3,00,000 cases of the Wuhan virus thus emerging as the epicentre of the highly contagious virus. Donald Trump continues to resist increasing calls from a nationwide lockdown as he continues to prioritise the economy over human lives. If this continues, there will be no end in sight to the USA’s misery because the only way to break the chain of the Wuhan virus is by practicing social distancing something which is not happening in the USA.
The Trump administration sent alarm bells ringing as it claimed that based on the estimates received from multiple predictive models, the country shall be prepared for a 1,00,000-2,00,000 death toll of the coronavirus. The US with 311,014 cases of coronavirus has already entered the league of Italy and Spain and has emerged as the virus’ epicentre. The USA’s coronavirus death toll of more than 8,433 and counting has already surpassed that of the 9/11 attack.
It is appalling to see that despite the fact that the White House predicts lakhs of deaths in the USA due to the Wuhan virus, Donald Trump is refusing to impose a nationwide lockdown. Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr Anthony Fauci who has emerged as America’s General in the country’s battle to defeat the virus till date was defending the President but it seems that his patience has run out as in a thinly veiled dig at Trump, Dr Fauci said that he “doesn’t understand” why every American state is not under a nationwide stay-at-home order.
“I don’t understand why that’s not happening. The tension between federally-mandated versus states rights to do what they want is something I don’t want to get into, but if you look at what’s going on in this country I just don’t understand why we’re not doing that — we really should be,” said Dr Fauci.
Trump has left it to the respective states to whether to impose a lockdown or not and this has created all sorts of chaos in the USA. While some states have completely gone into a lockdown, whereas most of the Republican governed states haven’t thus negating the efforts of the states which have gone under a lockdown.
The USA came under massive fire when the pictures of young crowd thronging Florida’s beaches went viral. Owing to the pressure, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis finally relented earlier this week and announced lockdown in the state. However, Republican governed states like Arkansas, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota continue to conduct business as usual. Now if you have one state which is under a lockdown and the other state is conducting business as usual, the infected people can travel back and forth and spread the virus, thus negating the lockdown.
The country is crying out for a clear messaging from the White House which till date hasn’t happened. The Governors are left to themselves and instead of standing united and acting as a one, different states are taking starkly different measures. John Cohen, former acting undersecretary at the Department of Homeland Security, said, “If the president came out with a clear message that was consistent with what his own public health officials are saying, then you would see these governors respond in a different way.” Cohen further added that it is paramount that every state takes consistent action which isn’t taking place due to a lack of cohesive national plan.
Donald Trump throughout the pandemic has ended up contradicting himself on various occasions. New York with 114,690 cases and 3,565 deaths has emerged as the hotspot for the virus. Despite, New York amounting to almost half of the USA’s cases, Trump has flip flopped over a lockdown in the state.
Last week, Trump said that he’s planning to impose a total travel ban on travel in and out of New York and parts of New Jersey and Connecticut but quickly backtracked after learning about the economic consequences of such a move as New York accounts for 12% of the GDP. Trump later claimed that he will issue a travel warning for New York and took to Twitter to claim that quarantine will not be necessary.
New Yorkers coming into states like New Hampshire for reasons not related to work have been requested to voluntarily self quarantine. The highly contagious virus will not be contained by voluntarily self isolation and strict measures must be taken.
Earlier, Trump claimed that states with low number of cases should not be under strict orders and now in a recent White House briefing, Trump admitted that a state can quickly go from “low and slow” to a “hot spot” for the virus.
The country is at the mercy of people following the current White House guidelines on the coronavirus which state that the Americans are advised to “work or engage in schooling from home whenever possible” throughout April, and to “avoid discretionary travel, shopping trips, and social visits,” and “gatherings in groups of more than 10 people.”
In a concerning development, Dr. Deborah Birx, the coronavirus task force coordinator, claimed that people are not following the guidelines and the rules of social distancing. Dr Brix while pointing to a sleep slop on a graph said, “We’re watching very carefully because we can see that you can go from this to this very quickly. This should not be happening any longer in new places, if people are doing the social distancing, washing their hands, not getting together in large groups.”
Donald Trump on the other hand is busy making illogical statements. He earlier claimed that he wanted packed churches on Easter Sunday — a statement which he was forced to backtrack on. He continues to claim that America must get back to business as early as possible. Even in today’s briefing, Trump made a bizarre statement that sports in America will be back very soon. In the same breadth, Trump also said that America must brace itself for a lot of deaths as the next week is going to be extremely tough for the country.
The earliest possible vaccine for the virus to be available for mass production is not possible before January next year as a vaccine has to undergo multiple trials before being made available for mass production. Till then, the only way to defeat the virus is by practising social distancing. It seems that the USA is all set to learn the hard way that the only way to defeat the virus is through a lockdown. While India has acted proactively and despite being a developing nation, it has taken the bold decision to go into a 21-day lockdown.
Trump is perhaps mindful that this is an election year and a booming economy was one of the major planks of his re-election. Maybe he wouldn’t have prioritised economy over human lives had he not been up for a re-election. Trump in 2016, won a seemingly ‘unwinnable’ election against Hillary Clinton and in 2020, Trump is surely going to lose a seemingly ‘unlosable’ election thanks to his inept handling of the pandemic.