With the coronavirus outbreak proving especially dangerous to the elderly, the Centers for Disease Control this week submitted a plan for containing further spread of the disease, including a recommendation that older Americans refrain from commercial air travel. The Trump administration has now ordered the warning to elderly people stricken from the CDC’s plan, according to report by The Associated Press.
Earlier this week, Dr. Peter Hotez of Baylor University medical school told Congress that for older people, coronavirus “is like the angel of death.” The World Health Organization released statistics showing that while the overall death rate for coronavirus patients has held at about 2.3 percent, mortality increases with the age of the patient. People over 80 years old who contract the virus have died at a rate of about 15 percent, according to a report by Healthline.
The CDC and the administration have since issued some cautions against flying for the elderly, but none as specific as the CDC’s original suggestion that older Americans simply stay out of airplanes and airports altogether, according to the AP report.
“If you’re a senior citizen with a serious underlying health condition, this would be a good time to practice common sense,” Vice President Mike Pence, who has been tasked by Trump with leading the administration’s coronavirus response, said at a briefing on Saturday, as quoted by the AP. Pence singled out cruise ship travel as an activity that elderly people should avoid.
The CDC website was updated on Friday to caution the elderly, especially those with other medical conditions, such as heart, lung, or kidney disease, to “stay home as much as possible” and “reduce your risk of exposure,” according to the AP report. Neither Pence nor the CDC specifically warned the elderly and other vulnerable populations against commercial flying.
The Trump administration has come under criticism for allegedly approaching the coronavirus outbreak with more concern for the 2020 presidential election than for Americans potentially at risk from the virus.
On Friday, Trump abruptly fired his chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, in a move that was quickly seen by one prominent political reporter as an attempt to “distract” from his “disastrous” response to the potential epidemic.
The total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. reached 442 on Saturday, according to a CNN report, with cases reported in 31 states, plus Washington, D.C. The apparent slowness of the government’s testing efforts has raised suspicions that there could be many more cases of the virus that remain unknown, simply because the victims have not been tested.
One investigative report published on Friday was able to verify only 1,895 tests for the virus have actually been performed in the U.S., and scientific journal Science described the Trump administration’s response to the outbreak as “badly bungled.”