Coronavirus

Will Trump's New Travel Restrictions Help Combat Coronavirus?

Here's what public health experts are saying.

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Even advocates of open borders can support reasonable temporary travel restrictions to protect the public from extreme health threats. And the coronavirus pandemic certainly fits the bill. But how effective will President Donald Trump's new travel "ban" be?

The answer isn't clear yet. At this stage, experts are deeply divided.

Here's the background. Trump restricted travel from China and Iran, the first countries to be hit with the virus, on January 31. This week he extended the restrictions to the 26 countries in the European Union's Schengen region, where citizens can travel freely across national borders without visas or passports. People in these countries—or all those who have visited them in the last 14 days—will be banned from the United States for the next 30 days, starting tonight. Americans and U.S. permanent residents who clear a screening are exempted from the ban. (The ban does not cover the United Kingdom, which is not part of the Schengen region, though the U.K. has roughly 500 confirmed cases of the virus. That's the same as Sweden, which is among the banned countries. Moreover, U.K. is on an upward trajectory.)

Trump's former homeland security adviser, Thom Bossert, thinks the ban will be of "little value." He noted in a series of tweets that America already has 1,323 confirmed cases of the disease, a number that is comparable to the rate in some of the countries—Germany, France, Spain—in Trump's ban. So it's not like this change will prevent the virus from reaching our shores. Meanwhile, enforcing a ban entails both direct costs and opportunity costs, diverting resources from where they could have been deployed more effectively. In a few weeks, Bossert insists, America will regret "wasting time and energy on travel restrictions." It would be far better, he maintains, to focus on hospital preparation and large-scale community mitigation.

Private companies, meanwhile, have been way ahead of the government on this. When Trump was minimizing the severity of the problem, many had already done their own risk analysis and started radically restricting all non-essential employee travel, in many cases stopping it altogether. Many airlines suspended flights from all the three affected provinces in China around January 28, several days before Trump did. They have likewise significantly scaled back flights from Europe.

On the other hand: Large companies may be beating the government to the punch in restricting employee travel, but that does not mean that smaller players and individual travelers are doing so. Slapping restrictions on them won't keep the country corona-free. But the the game now is "flattening the curve"—slowing the exponential spread of the disease and minimizing the number of people who contract it, so hospitals aren't overwhelmed by a crush of patients all at once. A slower disease trajectory will also buy the country more time to scale up screening capacity and develop treatments and cures, ultimately lowering the fatality rate.

To accomplish this, reducing the total number of disease vectors in the country may not be a bad idea. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the widely respected director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told the House Oversight Committee that 70 percent of the new cases are linked to Europe, making it the new China. So he thinks restricting travel from their to limit the number of new vectors is worth doing.

But there are dangers to this strategy. In the past, draconian travel bans have driven desperate people to try to enter the country illegally—and therefore without any screening whatsoever. That would increase, not diminish, the spread of the disease. At the same time, it will lead to calls to militarize the border even further.

Moreover, bans also prevent international experts and aid workers from going to the affected countries because they fear that they might not be able to return home. This makes the situation worse in those countries, increasing the global risk.

There are no perfect solutions here. With the ban in place, we'll soon see whether it makes the situation better or worse.

NEXT: COVID-19: A National Problem With Local Solutions

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  1. At this stage, experts are deeply divided.

    This just in: Experts have biases, too.

  2. At this stage, experts are deeply divided

    Experts in what? Are these the same idiots predicting one million people in the US will die?

    1. Experts in media frenzy, mob opinion manipulation, and political campaigns.

    2. If we didn’t do anything, 1 million or more people WOULD die.

      Math is pretty clear on this shit dude.

  3. “Even advocates of open borders can support reasonable temporary travel restrictions to protect the public from extreme health threats.”

    I respectfully disagree. Charles Koch’s dream of unlimited, unrestricted immigration cannot be put on hold just because of a disease. I’d continue to support open borders even if the #TrumpVirus had a 99% mortality rate.

      1. Shikha will be removed from Reason shortly.

        Obviously just a slaver in libertarian clothing.

        What kind of libertarian is she, to let mere *consequences* get in the way of her deontological commitments?

        Doesn’t she know that Open Borders is Reason’s “core value”?

        Open Borders Uber Alles!

  4. //Even advocates of open borders can support reasonable temporary travel restrictions to protect the public from extreme health threats.//

    Really? Because for years there have been reports that illegal immigrants crossing the southern border have been carrying a plethora of devastating diseases that have been eradicated, or close to eradicated, in this country for many decades.

    “Bullshit! It’s racism!”

    https://reason.com/2014/07/24/immigrant-kids-and-the-fear-of-disease/

    What changed?

    1. What changed is Orange Man Bad fearmongering about the virus kinda forced Reason to care about said virus. They can just ignore Typhus in Democrat run California.

    2. Shikha gets on board with closing the borders once it’s closing them to *Europeans*.

      I always suspected Shikha was just a racist. Now we have proof. Shikha herself taught us that racism is the only possible explanation for wanting to control borders.

  5. “Trump restricted travel from China and Iran, the first countries to be hit with the virus, on January 31.”

    “Many airlines suspended flights from all the three affected provinces in China around January 28, several days before Trump did.”

    So 3 days is “several” (and significant)? But Trump is evil, so…

    1. Also, airlines are not the only way that people travel, and not all itineraries are direct from country of origin to the destination.

      Thus, the travel ban and the airlines’ action are only slightly related to each other.

  6. With the ban in place, we’ll soon see whether it makes the situation better or worse.

    What will be the control?

    Just the usual nonsense from Shikha the dimwitted.

    1. No doubt it will get worse, which is perhaps Shika’s expectation.

      Buying time by slowing the growth rate is a wise thing to do. Shika says “it may not be a bad idea” while the doctor says “it’s worth doing”. I agree with the doctor and Trump on this over Shika.

  7. It doesn’t take an expert to suspect that Europeans from areas with high rates of infection, like northern Italy, might prefer to fly elsewhere in the world, rather than sit in Milan and stew in the virus, and the fact is that the lack of travel restrictions within the EU means that people from areas where there are high rates of infection can go elsewhere within the EU and can fly to the U.S. from any country in the EU.

    It also doesn’t take an expert to know that international travel is a major vector for viral infections that spread internationally.

    Lastly, it doesn’t take an expert to know that Ms. Dalmia will blame anything and everything bad that happens in the world on President Trump’s alleged xenophobia, and if and when President Trump does something unconstitutional and xenophobic, you can trust that the townspeople won’t come running when Dalmia writes about it–regardless of whether they should–because she’s cried wolf so many times before.

    1. Look Ken, the way to stop an infectious disease is with lots of close social interaction and international travel. It is the “Libertarian Solution.”

        1. You know who else had a final sol…

          Oh, never mind!

      1. You’re destroying Jeffy’s freedom of association, slaver!

    2. “Ms. Dalmia will blame anything and everything bad that happens in the world on President Trump’s alleged xenophobia”

      Now that Trump is banning *Europeans* from coming to the US, Shikha is on board with borders.

      She’s obviously just racist against Europeans. What other explanation could there possibly be?

  8. >>Trump’s former homeland security adviser, Thom Bossert

    might be grouchy about the “former” part?

    1. He got purged by John Bolton and John Kelly, before Trump finally wised up and fired both of them. I’d probably be a bit salty too.

      That said, his criticism of the Trump administration’s efforts wasn’t that harsh…he just disagreed about it being the best course of action to pursue and thought more effective plans could be utilized. I don’t disagree with him either, although I think that the travel ban is useful in slowing the spread and (more importantly) preventing more of a panic.

  9. “In a few weeks, Bossert insists, America will regret “wasting time and energy on travel restrictions.” It would be far better, he maintains, to focus on hospital preparation and large-scale community mitigation”

    Apparently there is only one set of people available to do anything. Walking and chewing gum is not within the realm of possibilities – choose one or the other

  10. We allow anyone to waltz right in… Such retardation led me to cancel my magazine subscription.

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  12. Whatever Trump does, a bitchocrat will be right there telling us he was wrong, his fault.

    1. “Bitchocrat” is awesome…I’m stealing it!

  13. Let me get this straight, here…

    1325 confirmed cases, 75 toital dead in the US. We, thanks to CDC sandbagging and FDA bullying, lagged for WEEKS on testing. That being the case, how many unknown cases have run their course, patient survived, or never even knew he had it? So, the mortality rate of CONFIRMED cases runs at six percent.

    Add on the top all the UNKNOWN cases, likley ten to twenty times the confirmed, overall mortality of those who have contracted it will run in the fractioins of one percent range.

    Meanwhile

    1. Meanwhile TWENTY THOUSAND have DIED from seasonal flu in the US in this current season, so far. How many schools did we close, or churches , restaurants. etc? The dicktator of my state has closed schools, most government offices, canceled scheduled jury trials (sorry the parties can suck it up and wait another year to get back on the rotation…) He is threateig to cancel chruch meetings, sports events have been cancelled, annual trade shows, and it was largely HIS lagging that was a contributing factor to the spread of the bug in a nursing home which killed twenty or more. He is threatening to close ALL restaurants in King County….. next thing a know he’ll be declaring Martial Law and pulling a Katrina. Hemight carry that one off in downtown Seattle, but I don’t want to think of what will happen if he goes rural with his power freak meme. He has induced panic buying, clearing out grocery stores in a day, But he wants to be reelected for another term next fall, so he’s putting on his bully pants and huffing and puffing and blowing the house down to show how big and competent he is.

      So far NO plan to address the massive catastrophe that WILL ensue once this bug grabs hold of the five figure homeless population in Seattle, let alone the spinoffs along the I-5 corridor. Once it takes hold in one small encampment it will spread like last summer’s wildfires in California did. So far I’ve heard NOTHING about how THAT issue will be addressed.

      The fear and panic and stress he is stirring up will do far more damage than the virus itself.. But I sadly suspect this IS his goal,.. he’d love to flex his muscles and declare martial law……… reminds me a lot of Bloomburg, except he controls his tongue much better.

      1. You clearly don’t get it. Any which way you want to slice is, the death rate is FAR higher than any regular flu.

        It clearly isn’t 6%, or even that 3.4%. But many experts think it might be 1%.

        1% is 3.3 million in the USA. Mostly old, but 1/500 young people too, 1/250 for middle aged people. Not cool.

        If you lop 30 working years off a middle aged persons life, that’s 1560 weeks of life… If we need to shut down a fraction of the economy, for a few weeks, that saved future productivity EASILY pays for itself many times over. That’s without even valuing the persons life as a life worth saving. For 20 somethings add another couple decades onto that number above.

        Bottom line is if this isn’t a total disaster it will ONLY be because we reacted to it so strongly.

  14. “America already has 1,323 confirmed cases of the disease, a number that is comparable to the rate in some of the countries—Germany, France, Spain”

    Ummm, not really. While you might say France doesn’t have that many more cases than the US: 3661 to 2329 only 50% more , the rate per million people is 800% higher 56.1 cases per million, as opposed to just 7 cases per million in the US. This is the number of total cases, and cases per million as of about 11am Global Meridian time on 3/14.
    Spain 5,232 111.9
    Germany 3,676 43.9
    France 3,661 56.1
    USA 2,329 7.0

    An 800% higher rate of infection seems significant to me, even if you want to just gloss over a 50% higher number of total infections.

    1. Lies, damn lies,and statistics.
      It all depends on what you want to panic people about.

  15. Shikha, we won’t know whether the European travel ban makes things better or worse because we cannot run an experiment with an alternative course of action.

  16. yes….see, no need for the article

  17. “In the past, draconian travel bans have driven desperate people to try to enter the country illegally—and therefore without any screening whatsoever. That would increase, not diminish, the spread of the diseas”……so, expect waves of French, Spanish, and Italians boats trying to cross the Atlantic and land in …uh…Delaware?

  18. so is she writing a similar article for Reason-Denmark? or is this just another boring, vapid Trump/wall thing for her?

  19. It seems as though many of those who criticize anything President Trump does, or does not do, are here bemoaning the fact that we will rue the wasted time and energy spent on travel bans. They should realize that we are capable of doing more than one thing at a time and still doing them well. We had our typical chorus from the ‘usual suspects’, who were quick to jump in front of the nearest camera and proclaim the President a racist, as they do daily, for severely limiting or banning travel from China to the U.S. despite China being the worlds number one purveyor of the corona-virus at the time not to mention that being Chinese, or not, is not a racial matter. Apparently, for a few of this bunch, who we all know, this is a knee jerk reaction whenever they feel as though they have been bested by an enemy, which is how they view our President.
    Time has, of course, proven them wrong, again, as the doctors and health professionals overseeing the response and preparations for what may be a long battle with this virus have stated that the quick response by the Trump administration was a very good move indeed and will save or at least delay countless people from being infected with this vile disease. Hopefully, with the time purchased by that timely response we may have gained the time to increase our batting average in responding and will be that much further along in developing a vaccine which may save many lives.
    I am afraid that we are going to see, on the part of the aforementioned ‘usual suspects’, behavior which when set against the background of a potential epidemic is shockingly partisan, typically belligerent and representative of the neo-democrat party sinking even lower than it normally does due to this potential nightmare coinciding with an election year. The neo-crats have already been fundraising off of this misery and I look to that only intensify if they feel they can get a vote out of it. There is really no limit to the depth to which they will plumb in their never ending search for power and the ability to lord over the American people and micro-manage every aspect of their lives.
    If the democrats attempts to either win or steal the upcoming election were to be successful, we would be treated to mountainous display of hypocrisy on their behalf. You would see the ruling class traveling everywhere and no matter how long or short the trip, in private jets, as they do now, while telling we peons to bicycle everywhere. We would also be told we need to live in tents as they lived in mansions much in the vein of Al Gore. The examples of the arrogance of the left and their lawlessness are legion as witnessed by the veritable litany of wrong doing and corruption they leave in their wake and all of it without a care because their media cronies cover up for them and their crimes go unpunished.
    We need to watch carefully as the corona virus attacks our bodies and the left attacks our body politic. We can ill afford damage to either and would be wise to avoid it.

  20. The truth is the first to die. Fatalities in children = ZERO. Nine to Thirty-nine years old fatalities in confirmed cases =.02%. Average age of fatalities in Italy = 80. Worst community action to take = school closings.

    1. School closings slow the general spread.

      Although that “kills the old” thing seems very convenient for the global ruling class. Old people on net cost resources.

      Coronavirus is one way for Xi to solve China’s demographic problems.

  21. There are no perfect solutions here. With the ban in place, we’ll soon see whether it makes the situation better or worse.

    No, we won’t. You’ll simply blame whatever negative consequences corona virus had on Trump and argue that Trump made it much worse than it would have been under Hillary or Mussolini or whoever else you currently worship, Shikha. That’s because you’re not in the business of rational analysis, you’re in the business of left wing political advocacy and propaganda.

  22. The fact is it will 100% reduce spread of the virus. Period.

    The question is will the costs be worth the benefit? I think so. Not many people are traveling right now anyway. 90% of travel is really not needed anyway. Business can be done via Skype and vacations can wait.

    So there’s really not valid reason to NOT reduce travel. Truth is it will also help out Europe too. Statistically some people that didn’t have it that come here would catch it and bring it home! The less mobility and person to person contact everybody has with everybody else the better for now. This is simply a mathematical fact.

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