Ebola ’14 vs. Covid ‘19
(May 15, 2020) — Security, claim peace scientists, is the experience and expectation of well-being. Analyzing management of the major 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa is instructive given Covid 19’s global rampage. Despite internal UN dysfunction, especially the veto system pitting members at cross-purposes, that organization proved its worth.
Moral ambiguity, even disingenuity, about oil and Africom aside, America’s response was particularly stellar. The contrast with supervision of the Covid ‘19 outbreak is stark. Eugene Jarecki stated in a recent Washington Post op-ed, that “had the guidelines been implemented earlier, a crucial period in the exponential spread of the virus would have been mitigated . . . and approximately 60 percent of American COVID-19 deaths could have been avoided.”
Jarecki’s website, TrumpDeathClock.com charts deaths from COVID-19 and the portion estimated as preventable, 53,781 unnecessary COVID-19 deaths in America as of May 17.
Home after treating patients in Liberian clinics, two Americans were diagnosed with Ebola in July 2014. The news generated widespread worry and despite both recovering quickly, deterred UN volunteers. Donald Trump, at that time, vilified both authorities and the afflicted. Advised that unchecked, the contagious virus could result in a million plus deaths, then-President Obama set the Pentagon, National Security and the CDC the task of jointly designing ‘a logistics mission with a medical component’.
Meanwhile USUN Ambassador Samantha Power convinced her more war-schooled National Security colleagues to arrange an emergency UN session to push through a pioneering resolution declaring Ebola ‘a threat to international peace and security’.
Not only did Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, the worst affected countries, readily subscribe but the biggest ever number of co-sponsoring countries, 134 passed the resolution on 18 September. Donations were generous in response to appeals for international aid toward the emergency effort. Obama took another novel initiative by deploying 3,000 troops to build Ebola Treatment Units and train local health workers in critical areas.
In early October, an American transport worker died after sickening on return from Monrovia, an Ebola hotspot. Hospital staff who’d tended him also caught the virus, to public consternation. Acting promptly to intercept and treat cases, Obama authorized the CDC to carry out intensive airport screening of anyone who travelled to infection areas, even as another American casualty (the last), an Doctors Without Borders MD from New York was detected.
Obama wanted to avoid unnecessary blanket quarantining such as Governor Cuomo and others were imposing on symptom-free citizens. ‘Better is good’, Obama was often heard saying – doing something constructive rather than merely ‘admiring the problem’.
To quell alarm, boost morale and minimize stigma, he subsequently embraced recovered patients invited to visit the White House. He dispatched UN Ambassador Power to West Africa, already reporting more than 10,000 positive cases and 500 deaths. Power carefully adhered to protocols including social distancing and medical monitoring, while observing vastly improved practices in safe burial and greater testing capacity. Trained staff could do their jobs thanks to smart international humanitarian intervention.
Disease-free declarations were made before the New Year in respect of those three African countries who had logged the highest incidences. On this occasion, intelligent creative cooperation among UN countries defeated the epidemic. The military transitioned into purveyors of true security delivering health, education and solidarity, demonstrating a global security system offering a superior alternative to war.
The peacekeeping mission also fulfilled the 1999 UN General Council‘s Declaration and Programme on Action of a Culture of Peace [UNGA resolution number 53/243]. The Global Campaign for Peace Education assesses this achieved when “citizens of the world understand global problems, have the skills to resolve conflicts and struggle for justice nonviolently, live by international standards of human dignity and equity, appreciate cultural diversity, respect the earth and each other.”
Caroline Hurley has worked in Irish health administration for 20 years and now lives in an ecovillage in Tipperary. A member of World Beyond War, her articles and reviews have appeared in various outlets including Arena (Au), Books Ireland, Village Magazine, Dublin Review of Books, and elsewhere.
Trump’s Covid-19 Inaction Killed Americans. Here’s a Counter that Shows How Many
By the time the president announced ‘new guidelines for every American to follow,’ the US was already the world leader in its rate of coronavirus infection
(May 6, 2020) — The National Debt Clock hangs above New York City’s Avenue of the Americas as a persistent reminder of a clear message: The United States is recklessly living beyond its means, and this will have grave future consequences. In the same symbolic spirit, it is time for the establishment of a national “death clock” to measure the cost in human lives of President Trump and his team’s reckless handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
Reports show that as early as January, the president was advised by both his own experts and the intelligence services of the need for urgent mitigation measures against the spread of the virus. Instead, he engaged in petty political feuds and Pollyannaish predictions minimizing its significance. Finally, on March 16, he reversed his previously dismissive stance and announced “new guidelines for every American to follow.”
But by then it was too late; The United States was already the world leader in its rate of covid-19 infection and has since become home to one-third of the world’s cases and five times as many as any other country.
Anthony S. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has stated that, had the guidelines been implemented earlier, a crucial period in the exponential spread of the virus would have been mitigated and American lives saved. Leading epidemiologists have put a finer point on this, estimating that 50 to 80 percent of covid-19 deaths in New York and approximately 90 percent of all American covid-19 deaths can now be attributed to the administration’s delay between March 2 and 16.
This suffering cannot be forgotten. As of today, tens of thousands of Americans have lost their lives as a consequence of the administration’s failure to act sooner, so it’s no wonder the president excoriates reporters who ask him why he waited so long to implement the guidelines. Trump’s fallback when he is under scrutiny is to deflect, attack, and distract. But will this work when his decisions have led to a loss of American lives? How will the President be held responsible?
It’s all in the branding, that stuff Trump himself does so well when he applies derisive nicknames to his rivals or attaches the name of a foreign power to a global pandemic. Accountability needs a brand, and the National Debt Clock is a helpful precedent. It demonstrates how to plant a symbolic flag in the numbers — one that can’t be knocked over by bluster or misleading campaign videos.
This pandemic is ongoing, and the lives already unnecessarily lost demand we seek more responsible crisis leadership. Just as the names of fallen soldiers are etched on memorials to remind us of the cost of war, quantifying the lives lost to the president’s delayed coronavirus response would serve a vital public function.
Designing a death clock must be based on mathematical models. Trump and his defenders may wish to assign blame to other countries, individuals, and institutions. His detractors, on the other hand, may wish to assess the consequences of his statements, decisions, and actions earlier than March. But a death clock must not reflect conjecture and needs to exist outside the news cycle, identifying only that portion of deaths which, according to experts, have resulted directly from the president and his team’s delayed response.
Conservatively, according to epidemiologists, had the Trump administration simply implemented mitigation guidelines by March 9, approximately 60 percent of American covid-19 deaths could have been avoided.
To let the numbers speak for themselves, my team and I have constructed an online counter at TrumpDeathClock.com, estimating the toll of the White House’s delayed response. The site displays both the number of people who have died in the country from covid-19 and an estimate of that portion whose lives would have been saved had the president and his administration acted just one week earlier.
What a powerful statement it would be if this clock could be displayed on billboards and projected on buildings in cities and small towns across America. This would begin to honor those who lost their lives and, in their memory, demand more responsive and responsible leadership.
Eugene Jarecki is a filmmaker and public thinker. As executive director of The Eisenhower Project, he is the author of “The American Way of War: Guided Missiles, Misguided Men, and a Republic in Peril.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.