A major culprit: The Europe travel restriction and the chaos.


This should not be paywalled as it is in the WaPo Coronavirus sections.
But just in case:

Our source of infections is overwhelmingly European. The shutdown of travel from there was not discussed in advance with DHS, Customs and Border, airlines, airports…anybody really.

These companies and agencies received scant notice, if any, and it set up so much chaos at the ports of entry, airline desks, etc. Screening was scant and next to useless. Planes did not know if they could take off, passengers rebelling, paperwork a mess, not nearly enough personnel, etc. In many cases, the airline personnel heard about the ban from the president’s speech. And that was at 9PM, about 2-3 hours after the flights TO Europe were already in the air.

All in all, the ban probably caused the pandemic to explode across the US because it was both too late and so badly handled. The thousands of Americans trying to get home were packed into airport terminals for hours at a time.

Mnuchin and Kudlow were adamantly against a ban weeks earlier because of economic ramifications. But a lot of folks in the administration were sending out alarms that were mostly ignored until the last minute.

The crux of the story, however, is that planning was absent until just about the time of the speech by Trump to restrict travel from Europe. The air corridor across the Atlantic is the busiest in the world.

What was the administration thinking?

12 thoughts on “A major culprit: The Europe travel restriction and the chaos.

  1. I have written earlier more than once that in hindsight, the European travel ban, and closing the Canadian border, should have been done earlier. but note that at the time the decision was taken, there were only about 1100 cases in the US, and China was then believed to be the source.

    But it is easy to be smart with the benefit of hindsight.


    1. That was only part of the issue. Still, there were a lot of alarms from within and outside the administration to look into European travel restrictions a few weeks earlier.

      The big problem, aside from the delay, was the chaotic method of not informing or consulting all the major players like airlines, Border Patrols, Customs, DHS, cities where the airports were located, etc. They all found out via the speech.

      It was a spur of the moment panic decision with no planning or consideration for the consequences of 48 hours for 10’s of thousands to head home. No one was ready for the influx and the jam ups at the terminals. People were panicking to get home or get off planes due to takeoff for Europe.

      The result was an infusion of thousands of people packed like sardines, no masks, for hours on end. And then these same people spread out throughout the nation over a period of a week or so.

      Now that is pretty inexcusable by any standard. Didn’t somebody say anything to the president about planning and notifying so we could deal with this mess?

      If not, why not?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Are we supposed to believe that imposing travel bans from/to any where at any time by anyone won’t create chaos? Is this a typical WaPo idiotic attempt at Trump bashing or a flagrant DUH moment? This argument is so stupid at its core, seriously???

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I know and I hate to contradict expert opinions.

    The travel restriction from Europe was put together in about 48 hours. But no one in the airline industry, border controls, etc were even consulted about how they could handle it.

    So thousands of infected people just swept into our country in a panic.

    Honestly, do you really believe that was handled well at all?

    Every time someone criticizes the administration, it’s Trump bashing according to his followers. What are they afraid of? The president is an adult, he can handle it. If he did something wrong, as an adult he would admit it and may corrections. He is working for us, is he not?


    Liked by 1 person

  4. In many ways, COVID-19 is the ideal political weapon for the party out of power.

    Unlike TV, where everything is resolved by a last minute, inspired decision, in this challenge there are no ideal outcomes, only choices between bad outcomes.

    No decision is ice cream vs spinach, they’re all Brussel sprouts vs cauliflower. So, whoever makes the choice brings hardship to somebody.

    So, Democrats will sit back, and offer nothing constructive, and second guess every choice as though the alternative was a happy ending and not just different victims.

    It is cowardly and dishonest, but it will work to some extent, unless they overplay it and make it obvious.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Don, the Democrats are not running the administration. And please recall that every time they or the media questioned Trump’s apparent blasé approach to the pandemic early on they got crapped on by the regime, by the GOP and by FOX and the entire right wing media frenzy.

      And people like you who kept saying “hindsight”. It wasn’t hindsight is was malfeasance by the regime to not even discuss the what if’s in January. We know intelligence told Trump. He now says they were not emphatic enough. What? Is he a little kid?

      Cowardly and dishonest? Like the regime?

      The point of the article is not that Trump delayed, it’s that when he did act it was so impulsive, without even considering his own administration agencies who had to deal on the front lines.

      That is not a matter of politics it is a matter of both common sense and administrative skills.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. So basically, with Democrats, there is no real answer. “It was not quick enough”, “it was too quick”, blah, blah, blah. Arm chair quarterbacks are really amusing and very predictable. Give it a rest.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Please read the post. It has nothing to with delay and all to do with no one in government or the airlines or the passengers or the terminals knowing what was planned or how to prepare for it.

          Bob, it ain’t hard.

          Liked by 1 person

      2. Has any President had to do this before?

        Former President Obama refused to shut down travel from parts of Africa affected by the Ebola outbreak at all. He got lucky in that no one fleeing the outbreak to the US was infected.

        He also left the borders open to MERS in 2012 but fortunately only two cases got in and they were detected and quarantined. Saved by a very short incubation period.

        President Trump at least made the effort to delay the pandemic reaching us.(It was never possible to keep it out forever) buying us time, but in hindsight he did not close our ports of entry to Europe and he allowed tourists returning from Nile River cruises to return to the US.

        But what evidence was there in real time to justify such extreme measures?

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I give up. You are not bothering to understand that the issue is how the restriction was put into place, not when.

          That fact that tens of thousands of travelers, whole agencies in charge of the border, the airlines, cities…no one was even consulted or advised except by the news and the speech. So the ensuing chaos caused thousands to cram into spaces for hours. Then travel home to spread the virus. No one was prepared for the panic. We gee, what a surprise since no one knew about it.

          I’m sorry you’re so blind to that obvious disaster.

          Please, Obama is not the president. But I believe he was well vindicated about his handling of the Swine Flu, MERS and Ebola.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I do understand but what you are missing is that there was no good way to do it, just other bad ways.

            Say instead of doing it more-or-less by surprise, you give a heads up airlines or travel agents. It would leak within minutes, and tens of thousands of Europeans thinking, at that time, that the US was a safe haven, would flee Europe to the US to beat the closing.

            In hindsight, the right way would have been to notify air traffic control to close US airports to European flights as soon as those airplanes already in flight would be expected to land, and then arrange charter flights to bring US citizens home directly to enforced quarantine.

            But even then it would have been too late, but we didn’t know that then.

            Again, there was no good choice, just different bad ones.


            Liked by 1 person

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