For Sen Ted Cruz, R-Texas, the Coronavirus crisis has gotten very real. According to Fox News, Sen. Cruz announced that he had been exposed to a man known to have the virus at CPAC about a week ago. In what he calls an abundance of caution, he is going into self-quarantine for the next two weeks. Rep Paul Gosar, R-Arizona also had contact with the unnamed person and will be isolating himself for the period of time recommended by health care experts.
Cruz offered details in a statement he posted on Twitter. The interaction, he states, took place ten days before he posted the statement and consisted of a handshake and brief conversation that occurred for about a minute. He notes that given the circumstances that the experts he consulted with state that the chances of infection are low. Also, the chances he might have passed the virus to someone else is also low.
Nevertheless, Cruz is going to remain at home in Texas for the next 14 days, noting that his job as a senator requires him to frequently interact with constituents. Cruz ended his note by urging everyone to remain calm and to follow the instructions of health care experts to protect their health.
Because Cruz is a high-profile Republican, a supporter of President Trump, and a conservative icon, he is getting more than his share of mocking on Twitter, according to the Daily Caller.
Amy Siskind, a self-described “feminist, author, and activists, posted, tartly, “Thoughts and prayers (not really tho)”
Jelani Cobb, a writer for the New Yorker and a professor at the Columbia Journalism School, added, “In fairness, people wanted Ted Cruz to self-quarantine way before COVID-19 was a thing.”
Fred Guttenberg, a gun control advocate whose daughter died at Parkland, was especially harsh to Sen Cruz. “Sorry to hear you are quarantined @tedcruz. The universe of alternative facts that you forced this country to live through is now coming around to smack you all in the ass. I hope because of you and others that defended the universe of alternative facts more Americans won’t die.”
To be sure, Sen. Cruz has his share of defenders as well. Joe Concha, a media reporter for the Hill, suggested that the mocking was not appropriate, “The giddy reaction already be displayed down here to Ted Cruz announcing his self-quarantine for Coronavirus is as despicable as it is depressing. It seems more people are interested in rooting against the so-called other side than anything else. Just horrible.”
Cruz’s announcement also has other attendees at CPAC, who may or may not have come in contact with the unknown carrier, complaining. They would like to know if they are in danger, however slight, of coming down with the Coronavirus so that, like Cruz, they can take precautions.
In the meantime, the Coronavirus continues to spread fear across the planet. The free fall of financial markets, the cancellation of events, panic buying of certain items and tightening restrictions on international travel point to a growing sense of unease about the disease.
Jeremy Faust, an ER doctor, tried to offer some perspective and encouragement in Slate, noting that estimates of a one or two percent fatality rate are likely overblown.
“Allow me to be the bearer of good news. These frightening numbers are unlikely to hold. The true case fatality rate, known as CFR, of this virus is likely to be far lower than current reports suggest. Even some lower estimates, such as the 1 percent death rate recently mentioned by the directors of the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, likely substantially overstate the case.”
He goes on to note that the coronavirus presents itself much like the flu for most people. Two exceptions exist, however. “This all suggests that COVID-19 is a relatively benign disease for most young people, and a potentially devastating one for the old and chronically ill, albeit not nearly as risky as reported.”
Dr. Faust suggests that proper hygiene and care and not panic buying of goods is a sensible way to deal with the crisis. Cruz is being responsible in his decision to isolate himself. However, the efforts of public health experts should be directed toward protecting the old and infirm who are at greatest risk of succumbing to the disease.