WHO Declares International Health Emergency

Coronavirus Outbreak In Over 47 Countries

As of February 29 there have been an estimated 80,000 cases worldwide of the COVID-19 virus, commonly referred to as the coronavirus. The virus has resulted in nearly 3,000 deaths and spans all continents but Antarctica. With diagnosed cases in at least 47 countries, the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared it an international health emergency.

On February 26 President Donald Trump accused his enemies of drumming up hype around the coronavirus as a ploy to attack him politically. “Low Ratings Fake News MSDNC (Comcast) & @CNN are doing everything possible to make the Caronavirus look as bad as possible, including panicking markets, if possible” Trump tweeted. “Likewise their incompetent Do Nothing Democrat comrades are all talk, no action. USA in great shape!”    

Pandemic or Mass Media Frenzy

Which is it? Soon to be pandemic, or just a lot of overhyped media frenzy that will ultimately be viewed as much ado about nothing worse than a typical influenza outbreak?

Regardless of which it is, there’s no doubt that the coronavirus has been affecting and will continue to affect global financial markets as the chain of supply and shipping continues to fragment.  This week the stocks suffered their biggest weekly losses since 2008.  Schools have been shut down for up to a month in various countries. Tourism is taking a huge hit, with numerous cancelled flights, cruises and hotel bookings worldwide.

Airbnb suspended all bookings in Beijing until May, with thousands more reservations cancelled in other cities. Airbnb’s highest customer support call topic is currently cancellation due to guests traveling to or from areas affected by the coronavirus.

Is Trump justified in viewing coronavirus reporting to be overhyped and simply the Democrats’ “new hoax” or are Trump’s opponents correct in accusing him of ignoring the science?

Coronavirus Has Higher Mortality Rate

In scientific terms, the coronavirus mortality rate has been difficult to measure due to the possibility of unreported mild cases, among other reasons. Taking this possibility of unreported mild cases into account, the virus is currently estimated to have about a 1% mortality rate. This might sound low until compared with a typical influenza outbreak that tends to have a mortality rate of .1% or less. Thus, the coronavirus is 10 times more deadly than the average flu.

Alarmingly, there have been four “community transmission” cases reported in the US as of today. This means the individuals had not traveled to a country with the disease and were not known to have had contact with anyone with the disease.

CDC Budget Slashed Under Trump Administration

Trump accused the CDC of needlessly spiking financial markets on Tuesday by warning the US public of an increased risk of a coronavirus outbreak within the country. However, Trump and most mainstream media outlets have neglected to report a very sobering fact: Under the Trump Administration, the CDC in 2018 slashed 80% of its spending on the prevention of global disease outbreaks. As a result the department now works with 10 countries on disease prevention instead of the 49 countries it previously worked with.

Administration Cut Funding To Highly Successful Program

The Administration cut funding to a program called PREDICT which had over a 10-year history of successfully finding and containing microbes before they could start epidemics. Over its lifespan the program was able to isolate and contain about 900 different microbes at their source worldwide, which prevented the microbes from spreading to humans as the coronavirus has done.

Climate Change Plays Major Role In Outbreak

The coronavirus is one of 300 new pathogens that have been either newly discovered or spotted in locations they never previously existed over the past 50 years. Part of the reason for this increase is due to the climate crisis, which has disturbed migration patterns and forced wild species and their microbes to come into more frequent contact with residential areas and humans. Deforestation has also led species such as wild bats to roost in residential gardens and farms in lieu of their typical forest habitats.

Too Late To Contain Outbreak

It’s obviously too late to contain the coronavirus, but hopefully one effect of the spread of this deadly and financially crippling virus will be to steer political discussion back to refunding research and disease prevention outbreak efforts worldwide.

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