The second and third confirmed "unknown origin" case of coronavirus in the United States adds to the growing body of evidence that US officials have made a disastrous series of mistakes in response to the mounting outbreak, putting an unknown number of lives at risk.
On Friday, a northwest Oregon resident and a 65-year-old resident of Santa Clara County, California tested positive for the disease. Both individuals had no known travel history to centers of the outbreak and no connection with anyone previously identified as infected. This follows the news Wednesday that a woman in Solano County, California, about 90 miles away, tested positive for the disease, also without any obvious sources of transmission.
Since the virus has a two-week period before symptoms occur, and because most cases do not require hospitalization, the disease is likely already present in a much broader population.
Even though the initial outbreak emerged in China two months ago, US officials have done next to nothing to prepare for its emergence within the United States.
Only a small handful of locations are prepared to even carry out testing for the disease. Without proper testing procedures, no individual quarantine measures the only effective way to contain its spread can be implemented.
The reaction of the Trump administration has been focused entirely on attempting to bolster the stock markets while utilizing the spread of the disease to escalate its trade war policies and shut down travel to the United States from even more countries, building off its xenophobic travel ban.
In January, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross declared that the outbreak of coronavirus in the world's second largest economy could be good for the American economy. "So I think it will help to accelerate the trend of jobs to North America," Ross said of the epidemic. "Some to US, probably some to Mexico as well."
Yesterday, Trump again dismissed growing warnings from doctors and scientists that the outbreak could quickly becoming a pandemic affecting the lives of millions of people. "It's going to disappear, one day it's like a miracle, it will disappear," Trump proclaimed. "And from our shores you know it could get worse before it gets better, could maybe go away, we'll see what happens, nobody really knows."
Vice President Mike Pence, a religious obscurantist who rejects the reality of evolution, has been appointed to oversee the administration response to the outbreak. Pence's press secretary, Katie Miller, the wife of Trump's fascistic adviser Stephen Miller, will be in charge of all coronavirus communications.
Trump's acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney went as far Friday to dismiss the possible threat of coronavirus, blaming the media for playing it up because "they think this will bring down the president, that's what this is all about." These remarks were delivered at the annual conference of the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC), which was held under the theme of "America vs. Socialism."
There have been plenty of warnings, increasingly dire, about the impact of the coronavirus not just in China but in the United States and throughout the world. The World Health Organization (WHO) raised the alarm in 2018 that it was time to prepare to combat a possible "Disease X," a viral infection that would emerge in animals and be transferred to humans. The WHO report warned that such a disease would spread rapidly and without initial detection, evading efforts at quarantine.
The US government has done nothing to prepare for predictable disease outbreaks, which in the age of globalization and mass air travel can spread very rapidly from one part of the globe to the other.
Instead, the Trump administration has been slashing funding for initiatives that are aimed at preventing the spread of disease like coronavirus.