July 6, 2020

Self-Induced Isolation




All of a sudden, America has become persona non grata to parts of the world. The slogan of Making America Great now must include a second phrase: Making America Great but do it alone.

A brief recap: One of the first moves by the current administration was to close America off from parts of the world. The travel ban, which was ordered just seven days into the new presidency, barred citizens from seven predominately Muslim countries from entering the United States for 90 days. After several years of court cases and revisions to the original order, the Supreme Court has allowed a modified version of the ban to remain in effect.

Likewise, the president's desire to erect a wall between Mexico and The United States has seen a similarly tortured development. Where do we stand today? Well, a few hundred miles of replacement and new barricades have been erected. Texas landowners along the Rio Grande are reporting visits from federal officials who are preparing to seize private land to build more miles of the project. Occasionally, judges say stop, while others allow some progress. And, just in case you forgot, Mexico is not paying for any of this, parts of the Pentagon budget are.

Tariffs? Yep. They seem to come and go, stronger or weaker, depending on a tweet. Hundreds of millions of tax dollars go to farmers, while significant disruption in trade has not produced a flood of jobs coming back from overseas, just higher expenses for most of us.

OK, so now, in a perfect example of karma, Americans are finding we are not welcome in certain parts of the world. Planning on a trip to Europe? Not so fast. At least for now, you can't go to any of the EU countries, which includes the ones most of us would want to visit. OK, how about we head north? Nope. Canada is a no-go for Americans. 

The reasons are not political or tariff-related. Instead, it is that the U.S. has become the world's hot spot for Covid-19. We are #1 in the world in deaths from the disease. New cases are occurring at more than 50,000 a day. Someone from our balmy shores who enters another country has been determined to be a serious risk to life and limb.

But, wait, we are not done with this unusual twist. Three northeast states have told citizens of sixteen other locales they are not welcome unless the visitors are willing to submit to a 14-day quarantine. New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut bore the brunt of the initial outbreak of coronavirus. With over 50,000 deaths in just those three states, their government officials are not willing to put citizens through another round of infection and death. For those from states that believe this is all much to do about nothing, they are not permitted easy access. 

Update: As of July 7th New York State has expanded its list of states whose residents are not welcomed without a 2 week quarantine: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas.

Hawaii actually started the policy of required quarantines back in late March. Arrive on one of the islands after that date and spend 14 days in your hotel room or condo...no beach time, no shopping (even for food). Did it work? With less than 1,000 cases and only 18 fatalities, yes, it did.

As I was writing this post comes word that Chicago is taking the same steps: those inbound from states with rising infection rates must quarantine for 2 weeks if the Windy City is where you want to be.

Maybe my mind is a little fried from four months of all this, but a distressing thought occurred to me. What if the restriction on travel between states is seen as an excellent tool for all sorts of reasons. Could Republican-led states tell those from liberal, Democratic-controlled ones to stay away....and vice versa?

What if a state that relies on highly educated workers closed its borders to people with only a high school diploma? Or, if you don't have a particular net worth, stay away, so that state doesn't risk you needing welfare or housing help. Yes, these scenarios are far-fetched. But, much of the last few years would fit that definition.

Consider what these ad hoc decisions by states, and now cities, will do to our struggling economy. Business travel will become impossible if you happen to live in the wrong state. Airlines won't fly from the U.S. to Europe; the only people allowed on board are EU residents, or those willing to be quarantined for 14 days...longer than most vacations. 

Lest we forget our high school history, there is the 14th Amendment. It protects the freedom of interstate travel. However, in one rather important detail, the Federal Government cannot enforce this right. The Supreme Court has left that to the states to worry about. So, I assume that means the three states that are telling my fellow Arizonans and me to stay home or spend two weeks in a hotel room, have every right to do so.

Frankly, I support their choice. That part of the country has paid a very steep price to get a handle on the situation. Those from states that view mask-wearing or social distancing as an affront to their personal liberties are not welcome just now.

Likewise, parts of Europe have been severely harmed. While we went our merry way pretending it was a hoax, or would magically disappear, they did the hard work of getting the initial spread of coronavirus under control. Since the first reports of outbreaks, Canada has taken the steps necessary to keep the infection and death rates down.

In terms of travel, national isolation is something that I usually think of from a historical context: Eastern Europe during the Communist era, China during the Cultural Revolution, North Korea anytime, and Cuba.

At least for me, though, this is a first for our country, a first because we are close to last...in recognizing and diligently dealing with this pandemic. Will these isolation orders be lifted? Yes, in time. And, for now, I don't mind not traveling to some far off place.

But, I find it more than a little disturbing and embarrassing that this country's citizens are seen as a life-threatening risk to others because of an entirely preventable outcome. 

19 comments:

  1. One of my blog followers from Europe just wrote that people coming into her country have to go to a hotel that was especially set up to house quarantined people for two weeks before you're allowed out and about. I just read an article on CNN about a few cases of Bubonic Plague having just shown up in the Far East and those people have been isolated. Not a good summer to travel... or to defund and/or leave the CDC and WHO. It makes me angry that we have a president who doesn't understand (or care about) the science behind stopping a pandemic from spreading.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Since day one, to the president the virus has been a hoax, something that is like the flu, something that will magically disappear, something that will go away in the heat, something that doesn't affect 99% of the people. I assume next is a statement that Covid-19 is not real; all the people who have died have died from heart attacks or poor health habits.

      The attempt to deny reality has worked for him for the past 3+ years. Unfortunately, the virus doesn't listen. It just is.

      Delete
    2. My Trump supporting in-laws are already saying the death rate numbers are including people who died from other causes. Apparently all the hospitals and medical examiners nation wide/world wide are in on the "scam."

      Delete
  2. It's a sneaky thing this virus and the numbers creep up on you almost unnoticed until they explode. One day you look around and everything seems fine and the next hospitals are jammed with infected patients. Perhaps the problem is that us humans naturally think on a linear scale but the virus operates on a logarithmic scale. You have to trust the medical experts on this one, going by what you see around you doesn't work until it's too late.

    A lot of how to control this virus comes down to early action before it gets away from you as Australia and New Zealand did (among others). I think Canada was slow off the mark but through diligence have managed to get it under control. Where I live we have been in reopening phase 2 for almost a month now. Here phase 2 is essentially outdoor work like gardeners and window washers, restaurants are allowed to serve at outdoor patios only, group sizes of 10 or less all with 6 foot minimum distancing. There is talk of moving to reopening phase 3 but there's no timeline on that yet. It won't take much for the virus to get going again so we'll need to pay close attention.

    Still, a lot of people have suffered. I just had an email from a friend of ours who's 30 something daughter contracted COVID-19 in late April. She just came home from the hospital Saturday and has a long rehab ahead of her as the virus affected many of her internal organs.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Canada, along with many other countries, has approached its response to this pandemic with caution and science, not rhetoric and misinformation. The difference in the end result is rather obvious.

      Delete
  3. We’ve all seen how the TV reality star “manages” a crisis: he “FIRES” everyone! So not only is our “leadership” stupid in his own right, he has, over time,fired anyone with brains who could help him.Alienated Dr.Fauci, the WHO, the CDC, and anyone of science who could help us out of this.. He doesn’t read the daily briefings that the EXPERIENCED members of government put together for him,so he can LEAD HIS COUNTRY.. he is lost cause..so, the states are on their own and I am glad they are quarantining themselves from places like where I live, where the Republican Governor led us right down the wrong path into more disease. I guess I am in a “state” this morning.Just so incredulous, so upset at Republicans who are letting this happen, , and just scared,frankly, of what my state is in for, and what my country is gonna look like after all this... This piece meal approach to a public health problem is hopelessly ineffective, but at least a few states are trying.. mine is not one of them!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I bet it felt good to get THAT out of your system this morning! Sometimes the stupidity and callousness just forces someone to explode in frustration. I can certainly relate. Everything that is happening, including the new flood of cases, was completely predictable.

      Of course, Trump will go back to his billions yelling all the way out the door that none of it was his fault. That is no biggie. But, for the millions who believed his rants, their future isn't nearly as bright.

      Delete
  4. I don't know how his minions sleep at night. Fortunately, we have more intelligent people in our country than I thought we had. Unfortunately, we're all stuck in this quagmire thanks to the fool in the Whitehouse. I can't wait until he gets what he deserves.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope that the sense of involvement and belief that certain systemic problems in our country must change does not fade in the summer heat.

      Delete
  5. Dear Bob and Friends, a friend from school with another individual, had booked a va-ca up north; did this last year, before covid hit the news. Well, the destination doesn't want tourists. In other words, my friend wasn't the one to back out. The travel agency gave her a credit, so she can go in 2021. Uh, alot can happen between now and then. They should have refunded at least some of the several thousand, but they didn't...same old, reprobates gonna be reprobates, that's what they do.

    Good thing she isn't hurting for cash.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I will lose close to $3,000 in actual cash for parts of two vacations that aren't happening. These cancellations aren't because of travel restrictions but are tied to the virus. Credits instead of rebates doesn't seem fair, unless that is what one chooses.

      It is hard to see tourism rebounding anytime soon, with both the uptick in Covid cases and the number of places that are closing their borders to help prevent the spread of the virus.

      Delete
  6. Bob your last paragraph sums it up pretty well. You were more than capable of having a better outcome but didn't have the "will" to get it done. You need to get Dr Fauci out of the penalty box and let him do his thing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A consistent message from various levels of government, directed by science and the facts, was all that we needed to avoid the mess we find ourselves now. With continuing denial of reality, and the message that we should just suck it up and tolerate a few hundred deaths every day, there is no improvement on the horizon.

      Our president has decided to refight the Civil War and stoke racial fears now that the virus either bores him or is so out of control he needs a scapegoat.

      Delete
  7. I see some of the young people walking around near me without masks and griping and taking them off in the stores that demand them the minute they're past anyone watching them. (One young man yesterday was actually yelling that he couldn't breath with it on. I wanted to say he's going to really hate a ventilator but I held my tongue.) It is just disheartening to see how very little people are willing to do for the common good anymore.

    As for tourism, I still have a new granddaughter in the UK that I want to visit. Sadly, the US is not on the list of countries that anyone is welcoming right now. GRRR.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I really thought younger people would be smarter than they appear to be regarding the virus. Older people and those who want to pick a fight over anything - they I am not surprised have turned mask-wearing into some sort of political or moral test, goaded on by their president.

      But you would assume that those in the new hot zones of 20s and 30s would know enough about basic science and not be so politically invested in screaming about freedom over something that is designed to save them a lot of pain and suffering. And, you are right: too many of us, regardless of age, have reverted to the "Me" approach of the 80s. Greed is good and you are just a tool to help me achieve my goals.

      Sad, and self-destructive for a society.

      Delete
  8. Maine has also been requiring a quarantine for visitors from most other states, although recently, they are allowing visitors to substitute a negative COVID test done within the past 72 hours. This policy has been controversial because the number of tourists who come to Maine each summer is roughly 10 times the population of the state. Some people are worrying about those visitors bringing disease from places with much higher rates of COVID infections, and others are worried about the loss of most of their annual income for people who rely primarily on the tourist trade. Maine allows exemption from the quarantine requirement for people from states with similar rates of new infections and similar positivity rates on testing. At first, that was just Vermont and New Hampshire, but Connecticut, New York and New Jersey have now been added to the list of states that are low risk for COVID infections.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hadn't heard about Maine: good to know. When I lived in New Hampshire years ago, I remember beautiful trips up the coast to Bar Harbor.

      Isn't it instructive that the states that suffered the worst early on, did the hard work of getting the disease under control and are no some of the safest places to go.

      Delete
  9. Our land border between the USA and Canada remains closed to all except essential workers. Anyone arriving in Canada from a foreign country has to self-quarantine for 14 days (except for the essential workers such as truck drivers mentioned above). However, BC as a province has not closed its borders to other Canadian provinces. Instead, our Provincial Health Officer has asked visitors to respect BC’s health orders. Provincial campgrounds have reopened, but only for reservations by BC residents. Many indigenous communities remain closed to visitors. The decimation of entire First Nations due to infectious diseases at the time of first contact remains fresh in the memories of many members of these communities.

    Jude

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LIke your First Nation situation, the Navajo tribe in northern Arizona has had a much higher infection rate; the Federal government has refused to give them extra suppliers and testing help. So typical.

      Delete

This blog has ceased publication of fresh content. Comments are no longer being accepted.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.