Just 10 days ago, life on Italy's streets was as vibrant as ever.
The cafés were filled to capacity with elegantly dressed Italians and tourists, and the looming Coronavirus threat was dismissed as "just another flu."
Today, Italy is under a complete lockdown. The death rate in some Italian provinces is currently at a shocking 8% among those infected, and it has become obvious that the Coronavirus threat is living up to the hype.
Italy is finally taking the pandemic seriously and beginning to emulate the crackdown on public life that has managed to suppress the transmission rate in China and South Korea sharply.
European countries are now taking preventative measures to make sure they do not become the next Italy. Austria has closed their border to Italy and shut down universities; Poland and the Czech Republic are conducting health checks at the border.
Israel is ordering all tourists to exit the country within days.
China's measures remain the harshest by far, enabled by an omnipresent surveillance state as well as the nation's traditional respect for family values and the elderly.
That level of respect is painfully missing in one crucial country in the dead center of Europe: Angela Merkel's Germany. While China gave other countries precious time with its aggressive containment strategy, Germany’s Health Minister Jens Spahn did virtually nothing. On Feb. 12, he claimed the virus was "under control."
On March 4, speaking to the country's parliament, he compared the Coronavirus with the influenza wave of 2017 and professed his great trust in the medical system to deal with the outbreak.
Meanwhile, Germany's biggest epicenter, the town of Heinsberg in Northrhine-Westphalia, saw lukewarm and highly limited measures. When parents were asked to bring their potentially exposed kids in for testing, a considerable number didn't even bother to show up.
Two people have died as a result of the lack of urgency.
This number is sure to explode in the following days and weeks, unless Germans are magically immune to a disease that has killed many hundreds of Italians by now. This is what happens when you have a toothless government with a weak, globalist figurehead that few respect.
But it gets worse!
On March 7, 60,000 fans flocked to a soccer game in Mönchengladbach, a city bordering the epicenter in Heinsberg. On March 10th, 40,000 watched a soccer game in the East German city of Leipzig against Tottenham and on March 12, 50,000 will watch Eintracht Frankfurt against FC Basel, in Frankfurt. While Switzerland has ruled out the reverse game being held in the city of Basel on March 19 due to health concerns, Frankfurt is actually considering hosting the game’s second match regardless. On top of all of this, Berlin is busy with preparations for a half-marathon in the first week of April.
This cavalier attitude is consistent with the treatment of the crisis in German mainstream media, which consistently warns against a "panic," relaying politically correct concerns about "discriminating" those under quarantine, and spreading fake news about the epidemic being negligibly more dangerous than a common flu. After weeks of utter silence, Germany's chancellor Angela Merkel finally weighed in today. Unbelievably, she said that she expects two thirds of the population to become infected with the virus, and then she had the nerve to praise her Health Minister, "Great job."
Germany's attitude towards the Coronavirus is at extreme odds with surrounding countries, which are anything but willing to accept the risk of a virus that can potentially kill 15% to 25% of its elderly population and collapse their healthcare systems. For Merkel, the virus could not come at a more inconvenient time. She is currently preparing to open the floodgates for another torrent of migrants that Islamic dictator Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey has unleashed on the Greek border. Merkel needs a bit more time to formalize the next step of her lawless migration policy.
Moreover, she has a vested interest in promoting her failing Health Minister in an intra-party power struggle that could see her old nemesis, conservative politician Friedrich Merz, take over the Christian Democratic Union. Health Minister Spahn has joined the pro-Merkel team, spending much of his time bashing Merz. Merkel is putting party politics ahead of the safety and security of the German people, as usual.
The suffering Angela Merkel seems to be willing to unleash onto her country and the continent could include an unintended casualty: The crisis may well spell the end of the open-border consensus that has prevailed in Western Europe - and is now meeting its ultimate test. Coronavirus has shown the need for border controls, nationalism, and all the cultural bugaboos that EU bureaucrats revile.
Meanwhile, President Trump might wish to consider whether it's a good idea to trivialize the crisis in the manner of Germany's failing goddess of open borders.
Trump certainly wants to beat back his enemies who are weaponizing the Coronavirus against him, and protect economic stability in an election year. While understandable, the time has come to muster American resources and focus them on a common goal: Securing national well-being and integrity in the face of a biological threat of potentially unforseen magnitude.
Gavin Wax is president of The New York Young Republican Club, an Associate Fellow at the London Center for Policy Research, and publisher of The Schpiel. His work has appeared in Townhall, The Daily Caller, The Hill, The Washington Examiner, The Federalist, and Newsmax. He is a frequent guest on Fox News. You can follow him on Twitter @GavinWax. Read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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