Today, President Trump gave a 10-minute address from the Rose Garden. During the speech, he didn’t take any responsibility for the loss of American lives, but said China had “instigated a global pandemic.” He went on to say, “The world is now suffering as a result of the malfeasance of the Chinese government. Countless lives have been taken, and profound economic hardship has been inflicted all around the globe.”
For the past several weeks, the President has been touting that the Chinese government covered up what was going during the beginning of the pandemic. In addition, he has accused the World Health Organization (WHO) of helping them do this. As a result of his beliefs, the President announced that the United States would end its relationship with the group.
According to public health officials, there isn’t any evidence that China or the WHO hid what was going on. Instead, they feel that this is an attempt by the President to avert attention for his own administration’s failed responses to preventing the spread of the virus in the United States. There is concern amongst health officials about this decision. Dr. Thomas Frieden, the former director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said, “We helped created the WHO. We’re part of it – it is part of the world. Turning our back on the WHO makes us and the world less safe.” The CDC has worked with the WHO since its inception in 1948.
The president of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, Dr. Thomas File, declared, “We will not succeed against this pandemic, or any future outbreak, unless we stand together, share information and coordinate actions.” Many Congressional representatives feel the same way. They feel that the President doesn’t have the authority to withdraw the country from the WHO without Congressional approval. California Representative, Ami Bera, tweeted that leaving the organization “will make the United States and the world less safe. President Trump is ceding American global leadership and handing it over on a golden platter to China.”
While the President continues to play the blame game, other countries, like Japan, are demonstrating that extensive testing isn’t the only way to combat COVID-19. Japan, which is a popular tourist destination and has large, crowded cities, has one of the lowest mortality rates among major nations with less than 900 deaths. In addition, their medical system hasn’t been overwhelmed and the government never forced businesses to close, although many chose to voluntarily. Japan’s main focus has been on containing small outbreaks via contact tracing and educating the public on the importance of preventive measures, such as social distancing.
Critics say the country has undercounted the deaths related to COVID-19. Some go so far as to warn that further waves of infection could undermine the progress that has been made. There are numerous theories for the relatively low mortality rate. Some say it’s cultural characteristics, like widespread mask wearing, a practice of regular hand washing and a near absence of physical greetings, like hugs and handshakes. Others think its attributable to the fact the public feels a strong pressure to follow the rules, so they’re likely to comply with any “guidelines” issued by the government.