Alabama and California Say "NO!" to Coronavirus Patients

BRANDON J. WEICHERT | THE WEICHERT REPORT

According to reports the Alabama Centers for Disease Control has threatened legal action against the US government if the federal government attempted to use a facility in Anniston, Ala. to house people suspected of being infected with coronavirus.

Anniston, Alabama is part of Calhoun County and is home to more than 23,000 people according to the 2010 US Census Bureau national census. Sitting on the slope of the Blue Mountain, the town has the dubious distinction of being one America’s most violent cities, according to the FBI. The county is solidly Republican and voted for Donald J. Trump in 2016 by 69 percent.

So, on a purely political level, heading into a contentious presidential election, it beggars belief that President Trump would condone the move to place what amount to ticking time bombs in this already-underserved county–let alone a place that voted so overwhelmingly for Trump.

After all, the people of Calhoun County–specifically, the denizens of Anniston–expressed massive public outrage against the Trump Administration decision to house the large cohort of potentially-infected Americans in their backyard (on this matter, the solidly pro-Trump residents of Anniston, Alabama sided with the Left-leaning community in Costa Mesa, California).

Presently, the United States is–inexplicably–attempting to move Americans infected with or simply exposed to the coronavirus from abroad back to the United States (during the Ebola outbreak, of course, U.S. military medical units were moved to the source of the infections to manage the situation there, rather than bring the infected patients back to the United States en masse).

As noted above, city officials in Costa Mesa, Calif., initially threatened legal action against US government plans to move those Americans who were aboard the now-infamous Diamond Princess cruise ship which suffered an outbreak of the coronavirus earlier this year.

Currently, some Americans from that wayward cruise are being housed in U.S. Air Force bases. In typical fashion, the US government gave the state governments as little notice as this Sunday to prepare for the arrival on coronavirus patients from U.S. Air Force bases to unsafe facilities in both California and Alabama.

Here’s what Republican Alabama Governor Kay Ivey tweeted on the matter:

What on Earth is the Trump Administration thinking bringing potentially infected people back into the United States–especially now as more than 300 people may be infected in Michigan?

The state and local governments of both Alabama and California (two states on polar opposite sides of America’s tiresome political spectrum most of the time) are behaving far more rationally than the US government (this is more proof that the slow-but-steady move away from centralized, one-size-fits-all solutions to our biggest national problems is the optimal choice left to us).

Decentralized networks will define the 21st century…if we have the gumption to allow this to become a reality across-the-board (not just in computer science).

In fact, the Trump Administration seems to be on auto-pilot when it comes to the coronavirus. They need to be far more proactive. The World Health Organization (WHO), the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and even the Trump Administration appear to content to simply accept the consensus that coronavirus is “under control”–even as numbers of infected explode from zero to many hundreds around the world.

The reason for this criticism is simple: as I reported earlier, most of the data coming in to the WHO, CDC, and White House emanates from China. The data, therefore, is inherently corrupted by the Chinese regime which is seeking to downplay and obfuscate the truth and extent of this outbreak.

While many on the Right have pointed out to me that the Trump Administration has instituted a travel ban for China, it is temporary and limited only to China–no one wants to admit that the disease has spread far beyond China and is now, for all intents-and-purposes, a pandemic. If that is the case, then far greater actions need to be taken in terms of containment.

It’s also important to note both my reporting from yesterday and Forbes’ reporting from February 13 indicating that, while the Trump Administration’s travel ban for China, is real it is also very limited. For example, Air China will be able–under current conditions–to resume direct flights to the United States on February 28.

What’s more, other China-based airlines, as well as airlines emanating from South Korea, Singapore, and Japan–all countries where the coronavirus is proliferating, as well as China’s Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong, are still allowed to fly to the United States with relative ease.

The disease has spread beyond China to the wider region. In fact, it is now in places ranging from Italy to Iran. So, it now becomes paramount for the United States government to get more serious about totally sealing its borders and containing the few cases of the disease that are now popping up in the United States (because of travelers being allowed into the United State from infected parts of the world).

After all, the disease has not spread to Alabama.

Even now, the coronavirus in the US has not gone beyond a handful of clusters in the US. The reason for these clusters of infected is that the government had not yet shut down these points of egress down to travel from China.

Should the people who would have been brought into Alabama by the US federal government not end up being infected with the coronavirus, as was the case with Holly Ruen of Southwest Florida, who was repatriated to her home in Southwest Florida after having been quarantined aboard the cruise liner, MS Westerdam, this is too grave a risk for the people of Alabama.

It’s important to remember, also, that Holly Ruen remained isolated overseas after being removed from the ship by something like 30 days (the CoVID-19 disease has an incubation time as long as 27 days, so she was totally cleared by the time she entered the US. This would not necessarily be the case for those going to the facility in Anniston).

When asked recently about the matter, Alabama Rep. Mike D. Rogers (R), a man who is known for his positive view of science in general (he sits on the House Science and Technology Committee), opposed the US federal government decision to turn Calhoun County into ground zero for another potential coronavirus outbreak.

Rogers and others who opposed the decision to house coronavirus patients at the Anniston Center for Domestic Preparedness (CDP) argued that the containment protocols there would be insufficient to curtail the potential spread of the disease to the wider community in Anniston.

After all, those who work at the CDP live in Anniston and the facility, while it certainly is helpful in training emergency first responders (about 60,000 per year), is not necessarily the best place for handling an infectious disease that we know so little about, such as CoVID-19.

Here’s what Representative Rodgers said about the former Obama Administration’s plans to house a large number of immigrant detainees at the CDP (which was formerly a chemical weapons training facility for the US Army during the Cold War):

The CDP is a world class first responder training facility; however, it was in no way built to house immigration detainees, much less children.

Many of those who oppose the decision to change the federal government’s housing plans for the coronavirus exposed Americans coming from abroad, let alone those who refuse to acknowledge that the CoVID-19 outbreak is, in fact, a global pandemic, argue that fear is as dangerous as the disease outbreak.

Yet, fear can also be a healthy response to a dangerous situation: it can provide safety through caution. In such instances, an “overabundance of caution” may end up saving many lives, particularly when a vaccine is not on the horizon (which, at least for most people, it is not).

There is little upside to bringing these people into a populated area of the United States that has not yet been exposed to the coronavirus. What’s more, there were two factors that inspired the opposition to the Trump Administration’s decision to allow for the coronavirus patients to be brought into Calhoun County. The first was this claim by the Department of Health and Human Services:

An unknown number of patients are expected to be transported to the Alabama facility next week and will stay in the existing dorms that are typically used to house first responders in the residential training program.

The second matter was this:

In the event an evacuee [that was staying at the CDP became] seriously ill, they will be transported to “pre-identified hospitals” for medical care, federal officials said. However, Calhoun County Emergency Management Agency said officials have not shared a plan related to transporting patients to a hospital.

It is that last sentence that caused such consternation. The feds were not sharing information or plans that would have been critical to the successful operation of this highly-important, yet bizarrely slap-dash mission that the federal government was embarking upon–by placing the already underserved people of Anniston, Alabama at risk of a massive outbreak.

After all, the CDP is a training facility that can house many people. Yet, its role as a containment facility is not a primary function. It could probably get the job done…but it is not an optimal use for the facility. The risk of outbreak would be high, particularly given the fact that there would be an “unknown number” of potentially infected patients staying there.

Can you really blame the residents of Alabama, or California for that matter? The greater question you should be asking is: why is the United States allowing for potentially infected patients with coronavirus to come into the country, let alone refuse to seriously and totally shut down travel coming in from affected areas?

We will be in for it as this disease progresses and we remain open like a gangrenous wound on an injured person. We need to seal those borders and keep our people safe. If selected medical professionals want to deploy abroad to help fight the disease overseas, fine. But, their return will be limited until they can be cleared of disease. Further, the US government needs to get off its “standard operating procedure” mindset and get more serious about prevention and containment. It also needs to stop taking China’s word on the extent and nature of the CoVID-19 outbreak.

Time is not on America’s side and it remains unclear if the Trump Administration fully understands the extent of the threat. For our sake, I hope it comprehends it sooner rather than later. Our prayers should be with the medical professionals fighting this disease. But, we must also balance our hopes for a quick-and-speedy end to this outbreak with realism: we must protect ourselves, our communities, our families, and our country above all else. America First applies to this situation as much as any other policy issue.

©2020, The Weichert Report. All Rights Reserved.

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