There is no turnstile

You think one pandemic is bad

I first worried about the possibility of a double pandemic in March. Four months ago, it felt needlessly alarmist to fret about two rare events happening simultaneously. But since then, federal fecklessness and rushed reopenings have wasted the benefits of months of social distancing. About 60,000 new cases of COVID-19 are being confirmed every day, and death rates are rising. My worry from March feels less far-fetched. If America could underperform so badly against one rapidly spreading virus, how would it fare against two?

COVID-19 has made clear what happens when even powerful, wealthy countries are inadequately prepared for rare but ruinous events. Months into the pandemic, international alliances are strained, resources are diminished, and experts are demoralized. The longer this fiasco drags on, the more vulnerable America becomes to further disasters: inbound hurricaneswildfires, and many other viruses that lie in wait.

Also major earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

Having failed to lead the best-prepared nation in the world against one pandemic, Donald Trump has made it more vulnerable to another. He has, for example, frayed international bonds further by trying to pull the U.S. out of the World Health Organization. Whether he has the legal authority to do so is still unclear, but even if the threat is empty, “some of the effects will be immediate,” says Loyce Pace, the president of the Global Health Council. U.S. officials and experts will start disengaging from international institutions, and that might encourage other nations to follow suit.

This won’t just harm the WHO at the time when it is most needed, but will also further diminish America’s already damaged international standing. A country that has badly mishandled its own outbreak, that has bought up the world’s stock of important drugs, and that has petulantly withdrawn from global alliances is less likely to receive warnings or support if a new crisis emerges.

And then it gets worse. Ed Yong spells it all out.

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