The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

    Coronavirus crisis


     With the novel coronavirus spreading across nations, citizens around the world face unprecedented restrictions on freedom in an attempt to slow the infection rate.

     California was the first state to issue shelter-in-place orders, approximately one-third of the U.S. population is currently under similar orders and more than 1.5 billion people across the globe are ordered to remain at home, but if laws are not heeded or the outbreak progresses, tighter restrictions on movement could be implemented. 

    Governor Gavin Newsom estimates that 60,000 homeless will be infected and need housing to isolate, and in a letter to President Trump, he projected that 56% of Californians could become infected if nothing is done.

     Following widespread breakouts, the President activated the National Guard on March 23 and deployed troops to Washington, New York, and California.

    The STAR can verify a letter distributed to local employees on Saturday, March 21 that reads, “In the event you are stopped by law enforcement or the National Guard on your way to/from work, show them this letter and explain that you are an employee of an essential workforce and should be permitted to proceed.”

    After more than 1,400 people died in Italy over the weekend, the prime minister ordered a strict lockdown that shut all non-essential factories and jobs and “banned any movement inside the country,” according to The Guardian. Italy has now surpassed China in COVID-19 deaths, with more than 5,500 fatalities.

    Spain called for another two weeks of total lockdown until April 11, as El Pais is reporting 1,753 deaths and 28,572 infections as of March 23. CNN reports that 10% of Spain’s health care workforce is infected.

    On Sunday, March 22 Germany’s Angela Merkel banned all gatherings greater than 2 people, not including work or family. Almost immediately after making the announcement, Merkel put herself into self-quarantine after she was exposed to the virus.

    Senator Rand Paul became the first U.S. Senator to test positive for COVID-19, and acknowledged that he was working out in the Senate gym before learning of his results. Dan Rather immediately tweeted, “Excuse me but why is the Senate gym apparently open? Doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence.”

    The health care system is being tested on many fronts, as high demand and lack of tests, supplies, and professionals are overwhelming medical facilities.

    The World Health Organization warns that “severe and mounting disruption to the global supply of personal protective equipment – caused by rising demand, panic buying, hoarding, and misuse – is putting lives at risk from the new coronavirus and other infectious diseases.”

    On Sunday, March 22, Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo tweeted, “I’m calling on the federal government to nationalize the medical supply chain. The Federal Government should use the Defense Production Act to order companies to make masks, gloves, and gowns.”

    Chuck Schumer and Democrats convinced President Trump to invoke the Defense Production Act, but Trump has not used the powers authorized by the order. He faces mounting pressure to order companies to make medical equipment and supplies, but the administration is reluctant. In the daily press briefing from the White House on Sunday, March 22, Trump told reporters, “We’re a nation not built on nationalizing our businesses.”

    The New York Times suggests in an article published March 23 that harsher measures are needed to contain the virus, including setting up “isolation centers with no visitation rights.”  As the Times reports, “Instead of a policy that advises the infected to remain at home…cities should establish facilities where the mildly and moderately ill can recuperate under the care and observation of nurses.”  

    China did just that, with NPR reporting that more than 20 quarantine centers were built in Wuhan, and families were separated in isolation.

    Esquire reports that Washington State purchased an Econo Lodge motel in King County for $4 million and converted the 85-bed motel into an isolation unit. 

    Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is considering similar isolation centers, as the Miami Herald is reporting, “DeSantis said his administration might put those who test positive for COVID-19 or show symptoms of the disease in shelters, such as abandoned convention centers or hotels, to prevent them from returning home and infecting those they live with.”

    Governor Newsom announced on March 12 that the state was prepared to act swiftly. The L.A. Times reports that the Governor issued a “sweeping executive order that allows the state to commandeer hotels and medical facilities to treat coronavirus patients and permits government officials to teleconference in private without violating open meeting laws.”

    President Trump is at odds with a number of critics and some in his own administration regarding his incessant use of the term “Chinese Virus” when referring to the novel coronavirus. A photograph taken at a press briefing shows that Trump’s notes were changed, coronavirus was crossed out and Chinese was written in what appeared to be black sharpie.

    Beijing has repeatedly expressed displeasure over the remarks, and a growing number of political observers are calling Trump’s actions racist, xenophobic, and irresponsible.

     Many nations are taking a hard-line approach to combat the virus, much to the chagrin of civil-rights activists. In the United Kingdom, Robert Peston tweeted, “There has never in my lifetime been a law that so encroached on our civil liberties and basic rights as the Coronavirus Bill, scheduled to become law by end of month. It is all aimed at keeping us safe. But the transfer of unchallengeable power to the state for two years is huge.”

    Federal powers are being greatly expanded, and the Department of Justice is requesting Congress grant emergency powers that threaten habeas corpus, and allow indefinite detention by granting “the attorney general power to ask the chief judge of any district court to pause court proceedings…grant those top judges broad authority…and pause the statute of limitations for criminal investigations and civil proceedings during national emergencies,” according to Politico reporter Betsy Woodruff Swan.

    According to the New York Times, “Cellphone videos from China show police officers knocking on doors and taking temperatures. In some, people who resist are taken away by force. The city of Ningbo offered $1,400 to anybody turning in a coronavirus sufferer.” The article says that the nation needs to “make masks ubiquitous” and reports, “In China, police even used drones to chase individuals down streets, ordering them to go home and mask up.”

    The Times attributes South Korea’s success to its draconian tactics that ordered all exposed to the virus force-quarantined and monitored by GPS technology and all violators fined $8,000.

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