The U.S. State Department overruled the advice of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), choosing to bring 14 Americans who were infected with the new coronavirus back from Japan, according to the Washington Post. The new report raises serious questions about the U.S. government’s decisions at a time when the coronavirus, which causes an illness called Covid-19, threatens to become a global pandemic.
The American evacuees were passengers on the Diamond Princess cruise, which has been quarantined in Yokohama, Japan since February 5. Over 600 of the 3,700 passengers from the Diamond Princess have tested positive for the virus, and it was announced yesterday that two Japanese passengers in their 80s recently died. The U.S. chartered two Boeing 747 planes to bring Americans from the cruise ship to military bases in California and Texas where they’re being quarantined for 14 days.
One of the U.S. State Department’s evacuation planes was loaded with 328 Americans on Monday when new lab results came back showing that 14 of the passengers had tested positive for the coronavirus. The CDC’s principal deputy director, Anne Schuchat, recommended that the 14 passengers be taken off the plane and receive medical attention in Japan. But Trump officials like Robert Kadlec, assistant secretary for preparedness and response at HHS, disagreed with the CDC, according to the Washington Post.
Kadlec, who previously worked as a special assistant to President George W. Bush and serves as a member of the Trump regime’s coronavirus task force, reportedly argued that the planes that had been chartered by the government contained seats which could be cordoned off for any infected passengers. This news wasn’t shared with the other healthy passengers on the flight, many of whom only learned about flying with infected passengers after they landed in the U.S. and saw news reports.
Videos posted online by American passengers from the evacuation flights show potentially infected passengers being put in a special area of the plane. One health worker in a blue suit appears to instruct some passengers with his hands above his head.
The U.S. State Department made the final decision to allow the infected passengers to fly, siding with Kadlec over the CDC. As a result, officials from the CDC asked that the Trump regime leave their names off the press release about the evacuation.
“CDC did weigh in on this and explicitly recommended against it,” the CDC’s Schuchat wrote in an email to the Trump regime that was shared with the Washington Post. “We should not be mentioned as having been consulted as it begs the question of what was our advice.”
The number of coronavirus cases outside China continues to climb, with South Korea and Iran reporting their first deaths from Covid-19 this week. And new cases of the disease are popping up daily in places like Italy. Cases in South Korea doubled overnight, bringing the total number of infected people in that country to 204, according to the Korea Times.
And even within China, where the virus is thought to be slowing its spread, there are some frightening new reports. A 29-year-old doctor in Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, died on Friday, a worrying sign in a region where at least 3,000 health care workers have been stricken with the virus. The doctor’s age has also alarmed some public health experts since the vast majority of fatalities from the virus had previously been in people over the age of 60.
Prisons across China are also trying to control the virus, as Rencheng Prison in the Chinese province of Shandong has reported over 200 cases of the new coronavirus in prisoners on Thursday, with seven guards also contracting the disease. An additional 230 cases were reported at Wuhan Women’s Prison on Friday, according to the South China Morning Post.
Meanwhile, allies of President Donald Trump, like anti-China commentator Gordon Chang, have become darkly boastful that the Covid-19 has been hitting China incredibly hard. Chang appeared on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show this week and tweeted about how China will decline on the world stage in the wake of the virus.
“Many smart people, knowing that China would dominate the world, thought they should try to manage America’s decline,” Chang tweeted on Thursday. “Look who’s declining now. It ain’t America. Funny what a tiny microbe can do.”
Aside from being a disgusting thing to say on a human level, it’s way too early for anyone outside China to assume that they won’t see the virus impact their country soon.
“Yes, the U.S. is already being affected, and it will get worse,” Chang conceded in a follow-up tweet. “Our society will not, however, be afflicted to the same degree.”
We’ll certainly see about that. With Trump at the wheel, I wouldn’t get too cocky.