President Donald Trump speaks in an address to the nation from the Oval Office at the White House about the coronavirus Wednesday, March, 11, 2020, in Washington. (Doug Mills/The New York Times via AP, Pool)
One of the most talked-about moments from President Trump’s address to the nation Wednesday night on the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak was the implementation of the (partial) European travel ban.
It received mixed reactions from Democratic members of the House and Senate, but Republicans universally praised the ban – all but one Republican, anyway.
Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), who sided with Democratic efforts to try and convict Trump last month during the Senate’s impeachment trial, was asked about Trump’s speech and the travel ban the next day. He cast doubt on the necessity of it, suggesting that “social distancing is perhaps most important”:
“With regards to the travel ban from Europe, I’m not quite sure why that’s an important part of this. I think social distancing is perhaps most important because it’s already here.
We’ve got over 1,000 people in the United States that have the coronavirus and our first responsibility, perhaps the most important thing we can do is to take action ourselves, not just limiting people coming here from overseas but instead thinking about how we need to change our lives so that we’re sure to protect people who might be around us.”
It was an odd statement to make considering there doesn’t have to be an “either/or” approach to both implementing a travel ban and working here at home at the same time on solutions that would better protect those already here from those who have been diagnosed with the virus.
Not only that, but doesn’t “protecting people who might be around us” include making sure the United States doesn’t allow more people in from countries overseas where the disease has hit hardest?
In addition to Romney, so-called “public health experts” also criticized the ban, with some calling it a distraction.
Fast forward to today, two days after Trump’s address, to an announcement made by World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus about the dire Wuhan coronavirus situation in Europe:
"Europe has now become the epicenter of the #COVID19 pandemic, with more reported cases and deaths than the rest of the world combined, apart from #China.
More cases are now being reported every day than were reported in 🇨🇳 at the height of its epidemic"-@DrTedros #coronavirus
— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) March 13, 2020
NEW: WHO director-General says that Europe has become the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, "with more reported cases than the rest of the world combined, apart from China." https://t.co/kGtP4bA84J pic.twitter.com/gFYo2wyR8u
— ABC News (@ABC) March 13, 2020
Sounds like it was the right decision to make, doesn’t it?
Wait. Hold on.
You mean the decision two days ago to limit travel from Europe was the right thing to do? https://t.co/ybTDzN4odq
— RBe (@RBPundit) March 13, 2020
Don’t look for Romney to walk back his criticisms about the ban, even though he should. They sounded like they came out of left field, if you catch my meaning. The especially bizarre thing is that they were further to the left than reactions from some Democrats who agreed with Trump that the European travel ban was necessary,