As we look at the coronavirus today, we do well to remember that serial under-response was the tragic story of U.S. and global reaction to the mislabeled Spanish flu of 1918. That pandemic claimed at least 675,000 lives in the United States and as many as 100 million around the world. The best guess of where it originated was—of all places—rural Kansas.
There’s no worse strategy than secrecy for safeguarding the public from a pandemic. It’s true that panic is a threat, but secrecy and innuendo fuel panic. Already, the U.S. government is behind the curve despite Trump’s demands that it get and remain ahead of coronavirus worries.
The appointment of Vice President Pence to lead is a very good development.
A virus can’t be killed with words, but panic can be steamrolled with information. Hopefully, Vice President Pence and the entire task force won’t settle for business as usual, because this isn’t a usual flu.
Better to be accused of overreaction today than convicted later of indifference.