Playing politics with pandemic

When a contagious, deadly pandemic swept around the globe, people looking for guidance to Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who is leading the World Health Organization (WHO) as director-general, learned that one very real danger involves individuals who exploit the situation for political reasons.

Tedros, as he likes to be called, discussed the dangers of politicizing a virus that knows no boundaries during an interview with Alice Park, a senior correspondent at Time Magazine.

Locally, Perth Amboy Mayor Wilda Diaz could be a case study for the phenomenon Tedros described.

Diaz has been visiting some of the most vulnerable residents in the city, such as senior citizens, and she could be spreading the disease even as she spreads good cheer and food baskets.

At one point, Diaz curtailed herself because she was in contact with a known carrier but that was brief and she since resumed a busy campaign schedule that involves exposure to large numbers of people.

Perth Amboy is one New Jersey community that has been hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic, but instead of doing the most to prevent transmission of the virus, the mayor has sought to sow political goodwill.

Diaz has been in contact with at least one person who tested positive for Covid-19 but her outreach was only briefly interrupted by that.

Diaz announced on April 1 that she had self-quarantined following exposure to COVID-19.

According to Diaz, “I had close contact with” a resident who tested positive for COVID-19.

Within days, she was back on the go meeting people and sharing germs although Diaz could have been an asymptomatic carrier, or some who has no sickness but may pass the virus on to others.

A similar tactic was employed by President Donald Trump, who ducked out of Walter Reed Medical Center, where he was treated for coronavirus, so he coukd wave to fans even though his contagion threatened Secret Service agents.

In March, Harry Pozycki claimed that 22 percent of the coronavirus cases in Middlesex County were in Perth Amboy, which includes just six percent of the area’s population.

Diaz is not alone in fielding such complaints.

The dean of Emory University’s school of public health criticized the White House for politicizing coronavirus and demonizing experts.

Dr. James Curran, who led the CDC task force investigating AIDS in the 1980s, called Trump’s attacks on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as “unforgiveable.”

Diaz made headlines by accusing Governor Phil Murphy of tying her hands but critics say she was ill equipped to decide what to open and which businesses needed to shut down.

A $2 trillion federal stimulus package approved in response to the COVID-19 pandemic was harshly condemned for generously heaping benefits on the rich but offering only meager help to ordinary Americans.

Using the pandemic as cover to reward wealthy campaign contributors, to bolster one’s image as a powerful leader or cultivate an image as a generous food distributor is abusing the authority entrusted to officials by voters.

As bad as the killer virus may seem, the pandemic is indiscriminate. It’s not malicious or willing to endanger innocent people in order to obtain an undeserved benefit like popularity and political support.

That kind of malignant greed is far more dangerous, which explains why the head of the World Health Organization made it clear that those individuals who exploit the coronavirus for political reasons are more of a menace than the disease. Call them COVIDiots if you want, but don’t trust them with our lives.

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