Pandemic, Economy, and Political Implications: Part II

This is Part II of the article “Pandemic, Economy, and Political Implications.” The whole article has four sections. Part II contains Sections III and IV. Part I is posted in the “Political/Social Commentary” page of this same release (March 2020) of this website, and contains Sections I and II.

Section III:  What Are the Implications? 

In the 2014 edition of the document “Crisis Emergency Risk Communication” published by the CDC that first came out under George W. Bush’s presidency (2001-2008), the subheading is “Be First.  Be Right.  Be Credible.” [7]  On page 2 of that document, besides those three principles, it added three more, and states “Throughout this book, six principles of effective crisis and risk communiction are emphasized:

  • Be First:  Crises are time-sensitive
  • Be Right:  Accuracy establishes credibility
  • Be Credible:  Honesty and truthfulness should not be compromised
  • Express Empathy:  Crises create harm, and the suffering should be acknowledged
  • Promote Action:  Giving people meaningful things to do calms anxiety, helps restore order, and promotes a restored sense of control
  • Show Respect:  Respectful communications promotes cooperation and rapport

Unfortunately, President Trump during the coronavirus crisis has not exhibited any of these six principles.  As a matter of fact, he has exhibited the opposite of these six principles:

  • Wasted valuable time
  • Wrong so many times
  • No justification for his actions and words
  • Ignores people’s suffering
  • Lack of useful actions
  • Shows disdain for others

This has been clearly shown and documented in Section II (Part I) of our article.  As a matter of fact, the previous section has clearly shown that President Trump has completely mismanaged the whole coronavirus crisis; he has repeatedly lied and dispatched completely false information or at best half truths; he does not understand the problem, and doesn’t allow the appropriate knowledgeable people to run with managing the crisis. He has completely underestimated the problem, and wasted several weeks of valuable time to attack the problem.

Actually this kind of behavior is typical of President Trump during his whole presidency on almost everything he has done.  He has always lied, provided no legitimate reasons for his deeds and words, he has always attacked and made fun of other people, showing no compassion or understanding of other people’s circumstances, and he often does not take actions to try to solve problems in a timely manner, if at all.  Yet, it seems that he remains popular to his loyalists and a portion of the American public.  It doesn’t seem that in the past he has lost a lot of his popularity.  Is it different now?

Yes, it is different with the coronavirus emergency.  In the past, his deeds and words did not affect the people loyal to him, at least not in the near term.  Life can go on as usual. 

However, in the current coronavirus crisis, everyone’s health and life could be affected.  In other words, our own existence could be terminated.  Furthermore when the whole society is basically shutting down, you may no longer be able to work, go to school, have any recreations, visit your friends and relatives, including not even being allowed to go outside of your own home.  You may end up with no job, no income, your savings and all your assets may evaporate with the crashing stock market and the shutting down of all industries.  In addition, the government is so heavy in debts due to massive relief programs and great reductions in income from taxes, putting all future generations at risk.

Anyone, including the Trump loyalists, can see the adverse impacts on themselves.  Even the wealthy people, including the top 1-2 % rich people can see their wealth diminishing rapidly and their whole lifestyles for themselves and their children disappearing before their eyes.  Perhaps sooner or later, even the Republican political leaders at the federal,/state/local levels may decide that blindly following Trump may not be good for their own political careers.

I think we are beginning to see that now.  You can sense that from the people around you. including Republicans.  You can sense that some cracks may be emerging from the Republicans around you, and even among the Republican political leaders.  Right now, the polls show that Democrats are much more concerned about the coronavirus crisis.  However, since in all likelihood, the coronavirus crisis in the U.S. and most other parts of the world is going to get worse before getting better.  Sooner or later when the crisis impacts their and their family members’ health, livelihood, and their pocketbook, they will be very much concerned about the coronavirus crisis, and will understand that blindly following Trump is not going to lead them to see light at the end of the tunnel.

I think this change in mood and assessment of President Trump is already reflected in the recent Democratic primary election.

  • Look at how rapidly the large number of Democratic presidential candidates quickly coalesce behind former VP Biden.  It is primarily that they see that the country has an urgent need to get rid of President Trump, and they don’t want to delay the choice of a Democratic presidential candidate until perhaps a divisive Democratic Party Convention in July and want to have a head start for the campaign.
  • Similarly, look at the overwhelming votes for Biden within a matter of a few days to 2-3 weeks when his campaign was close to ending.  Again people realize that the most urgent task facing the U.S. is to find a candidate that has the best chance to beat Trump in November.  Getting rid of Trump has become the most urgent objective for many people.

Of course, this was for the Democratic Party.  We won’t know until the election in November.  My guess is that this attitude will be pervasive across the whole country, and Trump will be defeated in November.

We end this section with some suggestions:

  1. If we cannot scale up quickly to the amount of testing that we need, then the federal government should seriously look into whether we can buy the testing kits from S. Korea or other countries around the world.  Even if we can produce enough test kits, if our test cost is high (e.g., several hundred dollars), we may still want to buy some test kits from S. Korea or another country if their cost is substantially lower.
  2. Our political leaders must be accountable for all their decisions and actions.  We should be willing to listen to others.  If we make mistakes, admit them and make corrections.
  3. Make sure that any information we provide to the public is accurate.  President Trump must not be allowed to spread lies or half truths.
  4. Since projections are already indicating that we will run out of hospital beds, start planning and implementation of the mobilization of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to build field hospitals in multiple localities or equivalent ways they can help out.
  5. The coronavirus is a worldwide problem.  Be willing to cooperate with other countries and learn from each other, and avoid the attitude that we are holier than thou.  We should stop the use of double standards or racist comments.

IV:  Comments on the Need to Eliminate Discriminatory Double Standards

Yes, the new coronavirus was first found in Wuhan, China in late 2019.  It then spread rapidly to other parts of China and then to the rest of the world.  But it was not a virus that China purposedly spread to other parts of the world.  China is as much a victim as other countries of the world.  As a matter of fact, China so far has suffered the most infections and deaths than any other country.

Even though China should have better handled the initial warning of a new epidemic, China did quickly share its information with the world, including Chinese scientists posting on 1/11/2020 the genome of the mysterious new virus.  That information quickly led to the WHO and other countries to develop a template for preparing tests.  Such testing kits resulted in quickly testing and controlling the spread of the virus in countries like S. Korea, Germany, and Singapore.  That is why the WHO has repeatedly praised China on its actions.

Instead of repeatedly focusing on a mishap during the initial moments of a new and confusing mysterious development, the world should also remember how quickly China share the information on the genome of the new virus determined by Chinese scientists that led to the quick development of widely available test kits. We should focus on how we can work together to attack this new global problem.

While facing this massive challenge of a new and rapidly spreading deadly disease, the Chinese government adopted draconian measures to isolate Wuhan.  Instead of trying to understand why the Chinese government adopted such measures, many people outside of China quickly criticized China to adopt such undemocratic steps limiting people’s livelihoods and personal liberties. 

A good example of discriminatory double standards is how the New York Times depicts the lockdown around Wuhan in a 3/8/2020, 10:30 AM article and a similar lockdown around northern Italy in another 3/8/2020, 10:50 AM article (20 minutes later).  In the former, it describes the measure “at great cost to people’s livelihoods and personal liberties,” while in the latter, it describes the measure as “an effort to contain Europe’s worst coronavirus outbreak.” [8]

An example of a choice of racist words is the Wall Street Journal‘s February 3, 2020 editorial article titled “China Is the Real Sick Man of Asia.”  The WSJ still has not apologized for such use of racist words.

Another example of racist words is President Trump referring to the coronavirus as the “Chinese Virus” made in a speech on March 16, 2020. Even though in the past, some illnesses were named after certain locality or origin, times have changed and now we should be more careful with such designations. For example, before 1978 hurricanes were named only with women’s names. That has changed. You would expect that the president of the U.S. would be more sensitive so his comments would not lead to more unwarranted racist attacks on Chinese Americans.

With such usage of racist remarks and double standards by the NYT, the WSJ, and President Trump, is it then surprising to see so many random attacks on Chinese Americans on the streets of the U.S.?  This is another lesson we should learn from the coronavirus crisis.

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[7] “Crisis Emergency Risk Communication” 2014 Edition, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Health and Human Services.  The first edition was published under President George W. Bush’s administration (2001-2008).

[8] Click “The description in Chinese including pictures of the two articles” for a description of the two articles in Chinese, and click “the description in English without pictures of the two articles” for a description in English of the two articles.

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