April 16, 2020
Author: Chilton Williamson
China may be facing a second wave of viral infection. In one or two European countries, patients thought to have been cured of the coronavirus appear either to have become reinfected or—what is more alarming—to have relapsed after having thrown off the virus the first time. There is also concern around the world that the pandemic might return with the colder weather in the fall. Meanwhile, as Great Britain, Europe, and the United States consider plans to loosen lockdowns, social distancing regulations, and other emergency measures, new threats are coming into view on farther horizons.
A week or ten days ago, Walter Russell Meade noticed in his column for the Wall Street Journal an impending crisis building in Central and South America; a region entirely unprepared for the arrival of the pandemic. Ecuador is the southern American country hardest-hit so far. Hospitals, morgues, and graveyards are unable to cope with the number of corpses, many of which are being wrapped in plastic bags until they can be collected, or simply put out in the streets. In 14th-century Europe when the bubonic plague was raging, men with horse carts roamed the streets crying, “Bring out your dead!” In Ecuador, there is no one to assume this gruesome (and perilous) office. “Social distancing” is impossible in the over-crowded barrios; fresh water for drinking, bathing, and hand-washing is difficult to come by; and lockdowns and “self-isolation in place” are impossible in a society in which the majority of the population are day-laborers; people who, if they do not show up to work in the morning, have no means with which to feed themselves and their families at the end of the day. In Mexico, where the virus has been slow to take hold, the infection is spreading. Meade thinks that–sooner rather than later, and perhaps very soon–large numbers of Mexicans, Central Americans from farther south, and South Americans will arrive en masse at the United States’ southwest border, clamoring to be let in or simply rushing the gates to break in.
The pandemic is advancing rapidly also in Africa, which is equally unprepared–or more so–and for many of the same reasons, as Le Figaro has noted. The Mediterranean Sea is an increasingly ineffectual moat protecting northern and southern Europe from economic migrants from the Dark Continent who swarm across it in rafts and boats. Should their numbers be reinforced by masses of refugees from the 21st century plague, it will become a dry one–short of far more drastic resistance to the migrants than Europe has so far been willing to make.
Meade thinks that “the American conscience” will not allow people massed along the southern border to be turned away. We may see what happens when the “American conscience” comes up against healthy American panic in the face of hordes of people, tens of thousands of them already infected by the coronavirus, seeking to battle their way into this country. If history is a reliable guide, panic will win hands down. The same goes for Europe. Should panic lose, we shall have conclusive proof that the West lacks herd immunity to the liberal virus, as well as to the (far less perilous) Covid-19.