“I do not anticipate this will be effective in the least,” Harvard epidemiologist Dr. Michael Mina told VICE News shortly after Trump’s surprise Wednesday night announcement. “Ultimately, this ban demonstrates his continued cognitive dissonance about the reality that coronavirus is along a trajectory of exponential growth in the United States.”
The U.S. officially recorded 938 infections as of Thursday morning, but many experts estimate the real number to be well into the thousands and simply uncounted due to the low level of testing in the United States. The Trump administration’s bungled attempt to deliver a test to regional laboratories, which was later discovered to be malfunctioning, helped delay screening efforts in America and put the Trump team on the defensive over its response.
“It is very likely we have quite a few more thousand, or perhaps in the low tens of thousands of cases, and just do not know it yet.”
“It is very likely we have quite a few more thousand, or perhaps in the low tens of thousands of cases and just do not know it yet,” Mina said. “In many ways, the travel bans might be best suited to keep Europe safe from American travelers.”
Trump’s surprise decision did have a big impact, if not the one he said he intended. The order sparked pandemonium at European airports, spooked American travelers and their families, reordered thousands of travelers’ plans, cratered the stock market, dropkicked the troubled airline industry, provoked a sharp negative reaction from the leaders of America’s European allies — and left medical experts shaking their heads.
The move represented a dramatic reversal from Trump’s earlier attempts to downplay the disease, when he dismissed any criticism of his administration’s response as a political “hoax” and suggested the virus might “disappear” in warmer weather.
Now, he’s set the U.S. on a collision course with Europe with little warning, in a brash decision that medical experts said would not address the problem America already has.
“My only comment would be my relief that the president finally recognized the crisis we face, but my distress that the entire response was so completely incoherent and out of tune with Americans’ health and safety needs,” Sara Rosenbaum, chair of the Department of health policy at George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services, wrote in an email to VICE News.