Republican senators let by Florida’s Marco Rubio claim it could save the U.S. from ‘death, lockdowns and mandates’ down the line.
Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and four other GOP senators have asked the Biden administration for a travel ban between the United States and China after a spike in Chinese respiratory illness cases.
“We should immediately restrict travel between the United States and (China) until we know more about the dangers posed by this new illness,” said the letter signed by Rubio, the top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, along with Senators J.D. Vance, Rick Scott, Tommy Tuberville and Mike Braun.
The rise in cases became a global issue last week when the World Health Organization asked China for more information, citing a report on clusters of undiagnosed pneumonia in children by the Program for Monitoring Emerging Diseases.
A Biden administration official said the United States was closely monitoring the uptick in respiratory illnesses in China, but added, “We are seeing seasonal trends. Nothing is appearing out of the ordinary. … At this time, there is no indication that there is a link between the people who are seeking care in U.S. emergency departments and the outbreak of respiratory illness in China.”
The other senators are JD Vance (R-OH), Rick Scott (R-FL); Tommy Tubervill (R-AL); and Mike Braun (R-IN).
The Republican senators cite China’s secrecy and obfuscation of information during the covid pandemic as the reason they are making this request.
The letter said China had an ‘incentive to lie’ about the severity of its outbreak to protect ‘its economy’.
‘As you know, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has a long history of lying about public health crises,’ the letter reads.
‘During the COVID-19 pandemic, the CCP’s obfuscation of the truth, and lack of transparency, robbed the United States of vital knowledge about the disease and its origin.
‘On January 31, 2020, President Trump issued an order to restrict travel from the PRC [People’s Republic of China] into the United States to protect the American people and counter the spread of COVID-19.
‘Many officials and commentators—including you—criticized his decision as being influenced by ‘xenophobia.’ But history and common sense show his decision was the right one.
Some Democrats are also unhappy with China’s response related to the reports of the surge in pediatric pneumonia cases that is reported to be overwhelming hospitals.
Though no prominent Democrats have echoed the call for a travel ban, some have expressed concern. Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin told POLITICO he was frustrated with China’s transparency and the information it was sharing. “We don’t know how reliable it is,” he said.
And U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel urged China to be more forthcoming in a post to X last week: “It’s time to abandon COVID deception and delays as transparent and timely information saves lives,” he wrote.
How much of an effect would a travel ban have? If covid is any experience, containing a respiratory virus through one is an effort in futility given the global travel network; if it is infectious enough, it will spread.
Furthermore, it appears that the spate of pediatric illness is related to the lifting of very stringent covid restrictions China imposed. In other words, another unintended consequence and covid policy failure.
Maria Van Kerkhove, acting director of the WHO’s department of epidemic and pandemic preparedness and prevention, said earlier this week the increase appeared to be driven by a rise in the number of children contracting pathogens that they had avoided during two years of COVID-19 restrictions.
In recent months, the United States and China have been steadily increasing flights between the countries, though they remain far below 2019 levels. The number approved rose on Nov. 9 to 35 per week for each country, up from 12 per week in August.
I suspect China is none too worried about travel bans or strongly worded letters at this point.
As I have said before, the best approach for everyone right now is to reduce your risk factors when it comes to exposure to airborne pathogens of any kind:
- Wash hands as frequently as makes sense.
- Clean and disinfect regularly touched objects.
- Stop smoking.
- Take vitamins, drink plenty of water, and start a sensible exercise regimen.
- Consider your home and office environment: Are there ways to improve the air quality that are easy to implement that makes it easier for you to breathe (e.g., air filter, humidifiers).
- If you suffer from a respiratory ailment (e.g., asthma), confer with your doctor for additional guidance.
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