Right Opinion

'This Virus Knows No Borders'

Tony Perkins · Mar. 25, 2020

If there’s one thing the coronavirus has taught us, it’s that people deal with a crisis like this in extremes. They either blow off the warnings and party on beaches or they operate in complete fear and paranoia — refusing to step out of their homes. Are we making too much of the threat — or is it real?

Dr. Martin Makary of Johns Hopkins says he’s not an alarmist or a conspiracist by nature. “I’m really just a scientist. But looking at the data and looking at what’s happening already in New York City and Washington State, we are not about to be overrun. Some of our hospitals are overrun… [And] we are four weeks, roughly, before our peak of this infection.”

He doesn’t say that to scare people. He says it to prepare them. Like a lot of Americans, he’s heard people compare COVID-19 to the flu. And while the two viruses may share some similarities, the reality is, they’re quite different. Number one, Dr. Makary explained, the coronavirus “has a higher transmissibility quotient. That is, every person that gets it will, on average, give it to more people than the regular seasonal flu — in part because of a longer incubation period, [and] in part because for most people, their symptoms are mild [to none].” As we’ve seen across the world, if people don’t know they’re infected, they’re more likely to stick to their routine and pass it on.

Another big factor, Dr. Makary warned, is the fatality rate, which is somewhere around one percent. That may not seem like a lot, he agreed, but in a country as big as America — where as many as 40 to 60 percent of the population could be infected — that’s tens of thousands of people. “American exceptionalism is a great idea,” he said, “but it doesn’t apply to the immune system. This virus knows no borders, and it knows no politics.”

He points to Italy, and while President Trump took protective measures — and took them early — the fallout there gives the rest of the world some important clues. “There are differences between the U.S. and Italy,” Dr. Makary agreed, but “we’re six times bigger. And so adjusting for our population and age, what they’re seeing there — about 800 deaths in a single day — would translate to 4,000 Americans dying in a single day. And again, that’s weeks before the peak… If we just do the math, we don’t have the resources. So the only thing we can do is [try] everything possible to stop the transmission in its tracks.”

Now, we don’t want to create hysteria or panic, Dr. Makary told listeners on “Washington Watch.” But “there are things we can do to get ready. And the biggest battle, in my opinion, is public awareness… This is not a joke.” And there are subtle things we can all be doing to stop the spread. For example, “we don’t think about it, but our phones are extensions of our hands. And we may wash our hands and then go back to using our phones. That’s a mode of transmission. When you fill up with gas, when you exchange your credit card or money at the counter, even at a grocery store — those are times we’ve got to just be super, super diligent about all the little ways that bacteria can spread by contact and common surfaces.”

As for the big picture, Johns Hopkins did reassure a lot of Americans when it found that the U.S. was more prepared than any other country on earth for a pandemic. That will come as news to anyone tuning in to the liberal media, which has spent the last two months blaming Donald Trump for not having a plan in place for a health crisis of this magnitude. That doesn’t mean America is perfect. But we certainly have reason to be optimistic that our leaders have as much under control as possible.

In the meantime, Dr. Makary urges, “This is our time to come together. This is our time to call those who are vulnerable and drop off a package for them, make sure they’re okay. This is our moment to shine. And we’re going to need all hands on deck.”

Originally published here.

Virus Relief Hits Pelosi’s Pork in the Road

“Do Democrats even care?” It’s a fair question — and the editors at the Wall Street Journal aren’t the only ones asking it. Here we are, in the middle of one of the greatest crises in American history, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) swooped into town to demand new curtains for the Kennedy Center. The $35 million for the performing arts hub is just one of the shockers in the House’s 1,100-page virus relief counterproposal, which proves there will never be a shortage of one thing in D.C. — pork peddlers.

Before Pelosi showed up, Americans were finally getting a good look at what the two sides can accomplish when they work together. Hours away from a Senate deal that would put real relief into families’ hands, that goodwill vanished in a cloud of sleazy opportunism. “[We were] all zeroing in on what looked like… a done deal,” Senator Mike Braun (R-Ind.) shook his head. “That’s what disappoints me about this place,” he told listeners on “Washington Watch” Monday. “We could have gotten this across the finish line,” but Pelosi “wanted to commandeer the process.”

Suddenly, Democrats were insisting on a whole laundry list of concessions on everything from climate change to abortion and sanctuary cities — nothing, Braun argued, that had anything to do with saving lives or the economy. And this is all going on, he lamented, during a “bona fide effort to tamp this virus down.” While the rest of the country is sitting at home, anxiously waiting for help and direction, Democratic leaders are hijacking the relief money desperately needed by hospitals, families, and small businesses. Why? Because their concern isn’t helping this nation. It’s advancing extremism — no matter the cost.

Frankly, the editors at the Wall Street Journal pointed out, it’s sad. Instead of working together for the good of America, liberals like House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) are telling Democrats to see the crisis as a “tremendous opportunity to restructure things to fit our vision.” “That’s the display of Democratic leadership in a crisis the nation received on Monday… When America most needs bipartisan cooperation, Democrats add to the economic uncertainty by putting their partisan interests above the needs of the country… The political chronology is instructive — and depressing…”

And, even more ironic, liberals are trying to jam Republicans, the editors point out, on an agenda so radical they “couldn’t pass [it] in normal times.” Things like: carbon emission mandates, Planned Parenthood funding, a nationwide ballot harvesting program, same-day voter registration, visa extensions for immigrants, a postal bailout, corporate pay equity, the return of “Obamaphones,” and more. It isn’t Christmas — but this proposal sure feels like it.

“Republicans had a deal,” President Trump tweeted, “until Nancy Pelosi rode into town from her extended vacation. The Democrats want the Virus to win? They are asking for things that have nothing to do with our great workers or companies. They want Open Borders & Green New Deal. Republicans shouldn’t agree!” Now, as the clock ticks on, even Senate Democrats are getting “antsy” about Pelosi’s strategy. Senators Doug Jones (Ala.), Tim Kaine (Va.), Gary Peters (Mich.), Jon Tester (Mont.), and Joe Manchin (W. Va.) urged the Senate to move — and fast.

Let’s hope they do. It’s hard enough to fight this virus and hold the economy together as it is. Adding the mess of partisan politics only puts more people at risk. If Nancy Pelosi can’t put self-interest aside and do her duty for the good of America, then maybe it’s time she took the government’s advice and stayed home.

Originally published here.

One Church’s Story of What Not to Do

No one could understand it at first. Arkansas’s Cleburne County isn’t big — but it still had the second-highest number of coronavirus cases. Eventually, local health officials started to piece it all together, a puzzle that led them straight to the doors of the Greer’s Ferry First Assembly.

Like a lot of churches across the country, the leaders of Greer’s Ferry didn’t want to cancel its services. The virus seemed like a distant threat in early March, and they still had activities on the calendar. So instead of heeding the warnings from federal officials, the congregation went ahead and hosted a special children’s ministry event. The result was catastrophic.

Today, 34 people linked to the church have tested positive for the coronavirus — with many more expected to be diagnosed. Pastor Mark Palenske and his wife were infected, posting on Facebook that “the intensity of this virus has been underestimated by so many, and I continue to ask that each of you take it very seriously. An act of wisdom and restraint on your part can be the blessing that preserves the health of someone else.”

Late last week, the county’s situation was so dire that judges and other officials had to close their offices completely. Arkansas Department of Health spokeswoman Danyelle McNeill said the state has traced dozens of cases to the church, and they’re continuing to investigate more. Gracie Campbell, one of the members at the church said, “I’m sure there are plenty of people walking around exposed [to the virus] and don’t even know it, and other people that don’t care. That’s the sad thing. There are people that don’t even believe that it is a virus, and that’s ridiculous.”

Fortunately, what happened in Arkansas’s Cleburne County is the exception, not the norm. Most pastors we’ve talked to have done everything they can to comply with the CDC’s recommendations and avoid the large groups that put entire communities at risk. It’s tough, as Vice President Mike Pence admitted on a conference call, for churches to weather this storm and be creative about how they carry on their ministry. But it’s not impossible.

“I do recognize,” Mike told America’s pastors, “that when you miss a service, there is a there is a portion of that revenue that… doesn’t come back.” But, he promised, “as we go through regular press briefings… we’ll make a gentle reminder and encouragement to Americans to continue to support those ministries, even if they’re not in the in the pews on Sunday morning, because of the great, great work that that our churches are doing every single day. And we’ll continue to in the weeks and months ahead.”

This is not a time to act in fear, but it is a time to walk in wisdom. Churches, if you’re looking for ideas or resources to keep your congregations engaged during the coronavirus, check out our website, FRC.org/church. There are ways to gather, ways to serve, ways to pray during this unique and challenging time that don’t put people in jeopardy. Let’s take our responsibility seriously and practice them.

Originally published here.

This is a publication of the Family Research Council. Mr. Perkins is president of FRC.

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