Op-Ed: New COVID strains are coming. It’s no time to let down our guard
By Dan Weikel, USA TODAY | USATODAY
In the first of his weekly newsletters, The New York Times’ columnist David Brooks suggests we aren’t being as vigilant about the COVID-19 pandemic as we should be. It’s a timely piece, given that President Trump’s administration is considering whether to extend its national emergency, which was set to expire in 12 days. On his podcast and in emails to his fans, Brooks urges Americans to stay vigilant.
“It’s a time to hold on to the last few months of our lives with all of our might,” he says, “not to let a few things slip away.”
He has a point. There’s no reason to let our guard down when one more person catches the virus and we’re scrambling to find ways to combat it.
Brooks’s newsletter is just the latest in a deluge of cautionary pieces to come out about the virus. A recent New York Times article warned against excessive complacency, and the Atlantic ran an article titled “How to Prevent Coronavirus,” with the title characterizing a post-virus world as one with “more uncertainty, less money, less sleep and more stress.”
Those articles are aimed not at dismissing the threat, but at motivating us to be more prepared. Yet they’re all a little too blunt and direct in their advice. They are based on the erroneous assumption that the world is now a world that’s less dangerous than in January.
That’s based on misleading headlines that suggest we have seen the worst of the pandemic. That’s true for the latest statistics from China, which show that the country’s death toll is declining but its new virus cases are leveling off. Those numbers have been steadily rising for the past two months. But those are still China, and there’s no guarantee the pattern