The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Jan. 30: ‘We Still Believe the Immediate Risk to the American Public Is Low’

Posted on | April 10, 2020 | 1 Comment

CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield.

The first five known cases of COVID-19 in the United States were all patients who had recently traveled to Wuhan, China.

Case No. 1 was in Snohomish County, Washington. Case No. 2 was in Chicago. Cases No. 3 and 4 were in Orange County, California, and Case No. 5 was in Maricopa County, Arizona. However, Case No. 6 was different. It was “the first instance of person-to-person spread with this new virus here,” as the CDC reported:

Previously, all confirmed U.S. cases had been associated with travel to Wuhan, China, where an outbreak of respiratory illness caused by this novel coronavirus has been ongoing since December 2019. However, this latest 2019-nCoV patient has no history of travel to Wuhan, but shared a household with the patient diagnosed with 2019-nCoV infection on January 21, 2020.
Recognizing early on that the 2019-nCoV could potentially spread between people, CDC has been working closely with state and local partners to identify close contacts of confirmed 2019-nCoV cases. Public health officials identified this Illinois resident through contact tracing. Both patients are in stable condition.
“Given what we’ve seen in China and other countries with the novel coronavirus, CDC experts have expected some person-to-person spread in the US,” said CDC Director Robert R. Redfield, M.D. “We understand that this may be concerning, but based on what we know now, we still believe the immediate risk to the American public is low.”

One of the repeated lies of the anti-Trump media is that the president failed to do what was necessary to prevent the spread of this disease. We are told, by Democrats and the media, that President Trump “wasted” six weeks during which he should have been . . . Well, doing something more than what he did, which was actually quite a lot.

On Jan. 29, Trump announced the formation of his Coronavirus Task Force, headed by HHS Secretary Alex Azar, and including the CDC director Dr. Redfield, who retired from the Army medical service with the rank of colonel, and whose medical specialty is viruses. On Jan. 31, Trump announced a ban on travel from China, which was controversial at the time. The same day Trump announced the ban, Joe Biden, campaigning in Iowa, accused the president of “hysterical xenophobia,” saying Trump was leading with “fearmongering . . . instead of science.”

The claim that Trump is “anti-science” has become part of the media’s narrative about the COVID-19 outbreak. Supposedly, a bias against science explains why the president didn’t do whatever it was that his critics, with the benefit of hindsight, say he should have done. What he actually did, however, was entirely in keeping with what the medical experts would have advised, given the circumstances. With only six known coronavirus cases in the U.S., five of them were people who had just returned from Wuhan, and the sixth was a household member of one of these travelers. So the first thing to do, obviously, was stop the arrival of more infected people from China, where the pandemic began and at the time had just been recognized as a “global emergency” by the WHO.

OK, so what happened next? As of Feb. 26 — nearly a month after Trump had created the coronavirus task force — there were still only 15 known cases of the disease in the United States. It was on Feb. 28 that Case No. 16 was identified in Santa Clara County, California:

Santa Clara County confirmed the second case of “community spread” of the new coronavirus in the United States, on Friday.
It is also the third novel coronavirus case in the county — and officials said it is not tied to the other two cases.
The individual tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. They had no contact with a known infected person and did not have any relevant travel history. . . .
The first case of community spread was reported just a day prior on Thursday in Solano County. The patient was transferred to the University of California, Davis Medical Center for treatment from NorthBay VacaValley Hospital in Vacaville, California.
Business Insider reported that the UC Davis patient also did not have a relevant travel history or have any contact with known infected people. A leaked internal memo showed that the woman was transferred to UC Davis on February 19, but initial efforts to have her tested for COVID-19 were rejected because she did not meet the previous CDC requirements.

At that point — where the 16th case had just been identified — there was not a single known COVID-19 case in New York or New Jersey. The only known case on the East Coast up to that point, was a man who had recently arrived in Boston from Wuhan, China, in late January. At that time, Boston Public Health Commission director Rita Nieves said, “The risk to the general public remains low.” And this continued to be the case throughout February, so that if you want to cherry-pick quotes by President Trump during that time saying that he believed we had the problem under control, and that the Wuhan coronavirus posed no serious risk to Americans, so what? This was the consensus of the medical community at the time. It was not until the first week of March that the outbreak began to escalate rapidly. New York Times, March 1:

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Sunday confirmed New York State’s first case of the coronavirus, saying that a woman contracted the virus while traveling in Iran and is now in New York City isolated in her home.
“The patient has respiratory symptoms, but is not in serious condition and has been in a controlled situation since arriving to New York,” Governor Cuomo said in a statement.
The 39-year-old-woman is in Manhattan, according to state officials. She returned from Iran last week, and was tested after going to a hospital in the city; she has since been staying at home, officials said.
Early on Monday, the governor said the woman was a “unique case.” Appearing on CBS This Morning, he said she was a health care worker so “she knew to take precautions and stay in a controlled situation.” He added that she had not ridden public transportation since returning to New York.
Later, on CNN, he said he anticipated that “there will be community spread” but that “there’s no reason for concern.”

Andrew Cuomo, March 1: “There’s no reason for concern.”

How is it that Trump is being blamed for supposedly ignoring the danger of this disease, when the governor of New York — whose state now has thousands of residents dead from COVID-19 — described the news of the first case in the state as “no reason for concern”? At that point in time, Cuomo’s confidence seemed justified. There were still but a few dozen known cases of this disease in the country, and almost no one realized that, in a certain percentage of cases, people infected with the disease were asymptomatic, but still transmitting the virus to others.

One thing that did go wrong in the early federal response to the coronavirus pandemic was that the CDC and the FDA bungled the development and approval of testing, hindering identification of people with the virus. That was a bureaucratic snafu, for which Trump was not to blame, but because hindsight is always 20/20, we now know that COVID-19 was already spreading far beyond the known cases in late February and early March. For example, the outbreak in Dougherty County, Georgia, which is now one of the worst per-capita of any in the country, was spread at two funerals that took place on Feb. 29 and March 7.

Here we are, then, on Good Friday, with all the churches empty because of lockdown orders inspired by the pandemic, and the media continues promoting the narrative that Trump is to blame, because he is “anti-science.” Yet we see that many other officials — including the director of the CDC and the Democratic governor of New York — were not expressing fear of a widespread pandemic in January and February. As I’ve pointed out elsewhere, Mayor Bill DeBlasio of New York City was telling residents to go on with life as normal as late as March 11: “If you’re not sick, you should be going about your life.”

More than 5,000 residents of New York City have died from COVID-19, and it took less than a month to compile that grisly total. The total number of coronavirus case for New York state, whose governor declared March 1 that there was “no reason for concern,” is 161,807 — more than Spain (157,053), Italy (147,577), France (124,869) or Germany (120,157).

There is plenty of blame to go around, if we want to point fingers, but shouldn’t we start with the Communist regime in Beijing? Oh, wait — didn’t somebody tell us not to worry about China?

President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign released a new ad on Thursday attacking former Vice President Joe Biden for his past support of China.
“During America’s crisis, Biden protected China’s feelings,” the text of the ad reads.
The ad features Biden’s past positive comments about China, as more Americans suffer from the coronavirus that first came from China.
“It is in our self-interest that China continue to prosper,” Biden says in the ad.
The ad also features Biden toasting Xi Jinping at dinner and questions on Biden’s son Hunter’s investments in China.
Dr. Anthony Fauci also has a cameo in the campaign ad, praising the president enacting the China travel ban to help fight the virus.


Democrats who want to play politics with this virus are likely to discover, to their regret, that they cannot win that game.



One Response to “Jan. 30: ‘We Still Believe the Immediate Risk to the American Public Is Low’”

  1. COVID-19 Screw Ups | 357 Magnum
    April 11th, 2020 @ 10:45 am

    […] It is hard to make decisions (that have meaning) in the absence of data. And for a very long time the data was missing or bad. Jan. 30: ‘We Still Believe the Immediate Risk to the American Public Is Low’. […]