Coronavirus outbreak provokes a political uproar

By MATTHEW BEDELL
On March 11, 2020

Photo courtesy of Metropolitan Transportation Authority of the State of New York, Flickr

COVID-19 has quickly and rapidly become a major talking point in New Jersey. Yet its arrival has sparked more than just conversation; it has provoked fears and produced political chaos worldwide.

The coronavirus spread initially from Wuhan, China, to across the world. Italy, South Korea and Iran are all experiencing major outbreaks and it appears as if the United States and United Kingdom are next.

The spread of the disease has already marked some political turmoil. In Japan, Abe Shinzo was heavily criticized in his mishandling of the Princess Diamond Cruise Ship situation. In Britain, the Health Minister, a cabinet position appointed by the British Prime Minister, was found to be positive for COVID-19 and had close contact with the upper brass of the U.K. government.

The threat alone has not been the only contribution to the chaos. Twenty Iranian lawmakers had to be quarantined, with at least two deaths, impacting Iran's ability to run its government and fight the virus. Lockdowns and quarantines in both Italy and China are restricting the movement of millions of people and bringing economic activity to a halt, which has led to chaos in the stock markets.

These are just some of the things happening globally. COVID-19 is an incredibly contagious virus that has managed to infect its way into the state of New Jersey.

As of Tuesday March 10, New Jersey has had its first suspected death from COVID-19 in Bergen County. A 69-year-old man who had not traveled anywhere other than New York for work was suspected to have gotten the virus and died from a heart attack. 

His case was one of 15 presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 in New Jersey. Subsequently, Governor Phil Murphy has declared a state of emergency; Andrew Cuomo, Governor of New York had also at this point.

Schools across New Jersey are preparing to close. Many public colleges, including Ramapo, have already gone ahead and prepared online classes to keep students at home after spring break. This was done in the hopes that it would reduce the chance of COVID-19 potentially spreading around a college and infecting an entire campus.

Many large scale events that were planning to be held are starting to be cancelled, including upcoming Saint Patrick’s Day parades. Officials are cancelling events that would gather large groups of people so that people would be less likely to catch the virus.

Politicians are trying their best to create situations where people can avoid the virus, but they are working against the current. The issue is that many Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. For some, it may not be possible to stop working through quarantine, and that runs the risk of further spread of the disease among a population that may not be able to pay for medical care.

The more the disease spreads, the more institutions and communities have to shut down and quarantine. The untold economic impact of closing down parts of the tri-state area could have major ramifications for the United States as a whole.

 

mbedell@ramapo.edu

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