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Insight: Trump's Eagerness To Open Up Could Be The Last Thing We Need

President Donald Trump.

President Donald Trump.

By Malcolm Strachan

AS the saying goes: When America sneezes, The Bahamas catches a cold. Imagine what becomes of us if that proverbial sneeze is caused by a disease that has already infected more than one million Americans. Despite being armed with this knowledge and that echoed over and over again from his advisers, US President Donald Trump has placed an extreme amount of urgency on reopening the US economy, presumably, at any cost.

Surely, for nations dependent on America’s economic health, this should be music to our ears - except for in this case when it could not be a more terrible idea. Still stuck in the throes of this global pandemic - which has already claimed the lives of nearly a quarter million people globally and almost 70,000 in the US - President Trump could not have been more anxious to pull the trigger on reopening.

With 24 states currently in the process of reopening and another ten still in the planning stages, many are wondering if the US realizes the dangers associated with moving forward so aggressively. And to be fair, there are many in and around the White House who are of the mind that this decision is coming much too soon. But unfortunately, those admonitions continue to fall on deaf ears. With legions of his supporters backing his decision, despite rising cases in those states, it is apparent the threat of economic collapse is scarier than the prospect of death for millions of Americans.

Notwithstanding that a shuttered economy also brings along its own negative implications, the total cost we may all end up bearing in the long run is perhaps being overlooked.

Commenting on this, head of the World Health Organisation Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus understands the urgency, but still is urging caution on the part of countries who may be jumping the gun.

At a virtual press conference in Geneva, he said: “I know that some countries are already planning the transition out of stay-at-home restrictions. WHO wants to see restrictions lifted as much as anyone... At the same time, lifting restrictions too quickly could lead to a deadly resurgence. The way down can be as dangerous as the way up if not managed properly.”

And US proponent of maintaining restrictions, top infectious disease medical expert Dr Anthony Fauci has been very critical of the President’s push to ease Covid-19 mitigation policies.

“We would want to see a clear indication that you were very, very clearly and strongly going in the right direction, because the one thing you don’t want to do is you don’t want to get out there prematurely and then wind up back in the same situation,” said Dr Fauci.

This is exactly what should cause great concern for Bahamians.

It is quite clear that despite what our government does to blunt the curve locally, getting beyond the health aspect of this virus is only one of the many moving parts. In fact, it may be the one we have the most control over in the short-term – which isn’t at all that comforting to realise.

Considering a headline in this daily last week stating that a quarter of our population – 100,000 people – are food insecure, we cannot minimise the difficulty that lies before us. As pay cheque to pay cheque living is a norm for many lower and middle-class citizens, what happens when there is no pay cheque? And this is not just painting a picture of what is currently happening. Rather this is a foreshadowing of what may be the reality for an undefined amount of time which many of us are unable to conceive.

And considering how conservative that number of hungry Bahamians provided by The Bahamas Feeding Network may be, the hardship being experienced by fellow citizens is a harsh reality we must find solutions for. Especially as we consider the US supplies over 95 percent of the food we eat, we are in a truly precarious position if self-preservation comes in to play as it did with restrictions that were imposed on the export of medical supplies from the US.

Additionally, the recent controversy over meat processing plants being forced to stay open by President Trump amid worker safety concerns should lead to many concerns if there is a spike in cases as a result of states getting back to business. What happens if those plants close and there are supply shortages leading to price hikes or an all-out trade restriction on food items?

Such instances are things we must consider if we are truly prepared for.

While Bahamians are meeting the challenge of food sustainability by planting fruits and vegetables in their yards, if we are being honest this is merely a stop gap measure. We need a full evaluation of our approach to food security, which Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources Michael Pintard spoke to in Parliament this past week. As heartening as it was hear, definitive timelines and the strategic implementation of this plan is needed to get us away from being so dependent on the US.

With many other Caribbean nations realizing the same, perhaps more regional trade is a part of the solution.

Additionally, we must consider how we can leverage our natural resources to create revenue generating industries which can lessen our dependence on getting heads in beds. Certainly, friends, we will be the wiser if we consider this crisis as a wake-up call. Any idea that once we’re on the other side of this – whenever that will occur – that we should just go back to business as usual will be beyond disappointing.

Comments

Well_mudda_take_sic 4 weeks, 1 day ago

Please Mr. Editor, no more leftist leaning never Trumper hogwash from Malcolm Strachan. Just how anti-American can The Tribune possibly be?!! It's better to just leave space on The Tribune page blank.

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Bonefishpete 4 weeks, 1 day ago

Just open it up. It's the flu that's all.

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Clamshell 4 weeks, 1 day ago

Are you really that stupid, or just pretending?

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Well_mudda_take_sic 4 weeks ago

Like many, @Bonefishpete is fed up with the whole Red China Virus ordeal and just venting frustration in the form of sarcasm. Can't blame him for doing so.

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SP 4 weeks, 1 day ago

Trumps' eagerness to open earlier than CDC recommendations will most likely backfire leading to a protracted pandemic and delayed return of US Tourism.

Let's not panic just yet! But why are all of our eggs in one basket anyway?

This pandemic is a good lesson for us. The Bahamas needs to be less US-centric and firstly look to source food security from our other Northern neighbor, Canada (NOW), and the greater Caribbean as well.

Canada exports half of their beef/cattle, 70% of soybeans, 70% of pork, 75% of wheat, 90% canola, and 95% of pulses. Over 90 percent of Canada's farmers are dependent on exports as well as about 40 percent of their food processing sector.

Agriculture and food processing are key components of the Canadian economy and of Canada’s trade portfolio. Agriculture and food account for 11% of Canada’s goods GDP and almost 10% of Canada’s total merchandise trade. Food processing is by far the largest manufacturing employer in Canada supporting over 250,000 jobs across the country!

From a food security viewpoint, as a 100% consuming country, we should have looked at importing and partnering with Canada, the Caribbean, and Latin American producers along with the US, decades ago.

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ThisIsOurs 4 weeks, 1 day ago

worse than Trumps eagerness is our penchant to act exactly like him. Minnis has been doing this since he got in. his constant use of the word bold was taken straight from Trump. It's uncanny that someone would want to emulate dumbness. I said just last week that I expected them to announce they'd be opening up as soon as the US did based on absolutely nothing. I didn't see it happening this quickly. Just last week Bethel was complaining about the number of cars on the road. It literally makes no coordinated sense. I think this is evidence that Sands is knocked down a peg or two

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bahamianson 4 weeks, 1 day ago

Trump might be eager , but he Andrew Cuomo , Desantis , the Governor of Georgia make their own decisions, don't blame Trump for any governor whom opens up early, it is the Governor's decisions.

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ThisIsOurs 4 weeks, 1 day ago

Can't compare Trump and Andrew Cuomo. Trump wants to hold political rallies next week.... this week. Andrew Cuomo is looking for a safe responsible way to go about the process.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 4 weeks ago

Ditto that @bahamianson. And @ThisIsOurs had better thank his luck stars that Minnis may well be more inclined to take his cue from Trump rather than Cuomo.

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proudloudandfnm 4 weeks ago

Just keep our ports closed to all US traffic until we either get a cure or a vaccine. We have to keep the Americans out, label it a matter of national security..

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joeblow 4 weeks ago

... wow! As though only Americans can be carriers of this virus! Thank God the Brits, Canadians and other are all immune!

The more reasonable idea is large scale antibody testing here to reopen different sectors and only accepting allowing tourists who present proof of having antibodies showing they have cleared the infection to travel here. This reopens the economy somewhat, while we wait for a vaccine!

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Well_mudda_take_sic 4 weeks ago

The problem here is that the Red China Virus anti-body test currently costs about $100 in the US and may not be fully reliable for quite sometime, i.e. the chance of a false-positive result remains much higher than it should be. Senior healthcare officials in the US are therefore presently recommending at least two, and preferably three, independent anti-body tests be done ensure reliability of the findings. This means the current cost of being reliably certified immune in the US rises to about $300 per person. The total cost of everyone residing in the Bahamas being reliably tested for anti-bodies would therefore be about $115 million.

While the higher-end tourists arriving by air may be willing to pony up the additional $300 for a reliable immunity certificate prior to their arrival in the Bahamas, I seriously doubt the cheapskate cruise ship passengers would be willing to do so. Nevertheless the corrupt cruise ship companies (as well as the Nassau Cruise Port developers) are already putting big time pressure on both Minnis and D'Aguilar to allow their passengers to gain entry to our country on the basis of only an inexpensive pre-screening temperature test for fever. Of course that proposal is absolutely ludicrous and a complete non-starter given that super spreaders of the Red China Virus are usually asymptomatic, i.e. they are highly infectious but show no symptoms at all.

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Jim 4 weeks ago

"It is apparent that the threat of economic collapse is scarier than the prospect of death for millions of Americans."

Malcom, Malcom, review the number of deaths attributed to the Red Chinese virus compared to number of those that live, 97% of those with virus will live. Millions more of Americans will not die by opening the economy.

The 'stay at home' order was to reduce transmission and prevent hospitals from being inundated. America is over that stage and the heart of the true Americans is to not only open the economy but to exceed expectations with a growing economical rebound.

The economic regression is not healthy for the mind, body and soul of the Bahamian people. They Bahamians remain strong in spirit, have endured mindless mass enforced business closures, leading to some going out of business, and last minute quarantines and lock downs.

The WHO and Fauci and others are determined to manufacture a vaccine possibly by CCP and so want the demand to continue for the vaccine, ie keep all closed until the vaccine is available. It is a financial incentive for the CCP, the WHO, already identified as lying to the world and those with vaccine related investments such as Bill Gates. Vaccines sales contribute greatly to drug companies.

A lot of people educated in the preservatives, adjuvants, and additives of vaccines do not want thimerosal (mercury), aluminum, and formaldehyde, ingredients of vaccines, injected into their bodies. People need to develop self-immunity and they will with exposure, and support of the their immune system that will naturally defeat the virus.

The Bahamian economy needs to return and tourism was its main supporter.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 4 weeks ago

Most enlightening -thanks.

Anyone familiar with American history would know that most Americans (white, black or whatever colour) would rather die than give up their freedom.

Too many Americans have made the ultimate sacrifice in wars and other global conflicts starting with the American War of Independence for the right to live free. It's just culturally ingrained in patriotic Americans to live free or die.

I suspect many right thinking patriotic Bahamians would also rather live free than revert to the days when their freedom was either very limited or did not exist.

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