There continue to be disturbing reports of the spread of the coronavirus in the United States this week. After a second person died in Washington state, the first confirmed case was reported in New York City this weekend. But it’s also worth keeping some of the details in mind. Of the two deaths in Washington, one was a person in their 70s who was already in failing health and the other was someone with a severely “compromised immune system.” Much like the flu (which kills tens of thousands every year), these are the categories of patients who are sadly most susceptible to a worst-case outcome. The patient in New York is a health care worker who is exposed to all sorts of medical issues, so that’s probably not terribly surprising either.
So how well or how badly is the United States doing? Johns Hopkins has been keeping a regularly updated global map available to the public and it tracks the spread of the virus. They identify individual cases with tiny red dots, while large outbreaks are shown as larger red circles. Total infections and fatalities are displayed in side-panels. If you take a look at their map of North America, the situation in the United States still looks remarkably calm. (Click on all pictures for full-size image.)
As you can see, our small number of cases leaves the vast majority of the map dark. As of this morning, America is listed as having 86 confirmed cases and two fatalities in a country of more than 350 million people. (Not counting losing the half of the population that Joe Biden seems to believe were shot to death in the past few years.)
For comparison, here’s what the Johns Hopkins map of Asia looks like right now.
Not to be too crude about the red coloration, but that’s just a bloodbath compared to North America. (Both literally and figuratively.) Now just for a sense of balance, here’s their map of Europe and the Middle East.
The virus started in China and got its legs under it in neighboring regions before we even knew what we were dealing with, so it makes sense that Asia is faring the worst. But by comparison, people were traveling to Europe and the Middle East in numbers comparable to those heading to North America. And yet Europe is faring much worse by comparison. Why? While acknowledging that this is entirely anecdotal at this point, one factor is surely the reality that we maintain tigher border controls and the President immediately instituted travel restrictions and other precautions as soon as the outbreak became widely understood.
I understand that it may still be early in this game, and things could still get much worse for us as we go. We have to be prepared for that. But at least for now, America seems to be doing as best as could be imagined giving the “viral” nature of this threat. And other countries seem to have notice the results we’re getting. Germany recently announced that they are looking at similar travel restrictions in response to the coronavirus. (Yahoo News)
Germany announced a slew of measures aimed at preventing the spread of the coronavirus by people coming into the country from affected areas.
A German government task force dealing with the crisis announced late on Friday plans to intensify health checks for cross-border travel into the country and said travelers arriving from South Korea, Japan, Italy and Iran must declare their health status upon arrival. Passengers from China are already required to do so.
Sadly for Germany, this may be a case of closing the barn door after the horses have already gotten out. Or, in this case, after the sick horses have already gotten into the stables. But they’re part of the European Union and have embraced a borderless society for generations. They also don’t have oceans separating them from most of their neighbors as we do. Closing up their borders now will probably prove impossible.
I suppose the only point I’m making here is that America acted quickly based on the small amounts of information that were available. And while we’re not out of the woods yet, we’re at least off to a somewhat better start than so many other countries. Now we must remain vigilant and keep actively working on containing the spread while getting tests and viable vaccines in production and widely available.