President Trump has released a new proclamation forbidding foreign nationals to enter the country if they have been in Brazil at any time in the 14 days preceding their entry attempt. As we well know, these restrictions follow previously dictated stay-at-home and face-covering orders throughout the nation, as America continues to see the most number of reported cases, now followed in close numbers by Brazil.
Surpassing Russia and Italy as the previous most-affected countries, the extensive country of Brazil is continuing to see rampant infections and a growing death toll from the virus. Many in Brazil worry not only for themselves, but also for the indigenous peoples that live in parts of the Amazon and other far-reaching parts of the Republic, as they are clearly vulnerable to the sickness and to being wiped out of existence.
Even more citizens of the nation find the pandemic to be infesting their politics, with many calling out their newly elected president, Jair Bolsonaro, for not embracing the social distancing orders and wanting to keep businesses open. This political unease aside, Trump’s action of barring visitors has no ulterior motive other than trying to protect our country from welcoming in more possible infections. A precautionary step, which government officials are backing as a safe and temporary measure that should not raise any red flags, as it would not incur a major economic impact.
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany was quoted from CNN addressing this and saying, “These new restrictions do not apply to the flow of commerce between the United States and Brazil.” The U.S. Embassy added that it would also not apply to U.S. citizens, permanent residents, or immediate family to these citizens.
Naturally, while it is unfortunate to have to close doors to those wishing to come to the U.S., it would appear to be an appropriate choice made out of necessity, by officials who are continuously screening and tracking the vicious trail of this virus. Some may think that the rule is hasty, and we could just test incoming passengers for the disease at the point of entry but, as with many seemingly fitting ideas, this is easier said than done. The country already has trouble securing enough tests for its own citizens and has medical personnel working around the clock to manage the vast amount, nonetheless adding more to the pile.
One characteristic of the stealthy COVID-19 is that it can be sitting in a person undetected for some time, making it an even more potent enemy. The White House released a statement captured in The Washington Post giving a solid explanation as to how this was a key factor in the decision, stating, “The potential for undetected transmission of the virus by infected individuals seeking to enter the United States from the Federative Republic of Brazil threatens the security of our transportation system and infrastructure and the national security.”
Hopefully, we will not see this pronouncement causing aggression or tension from the opposition. This resolution only came to light last week, after Brazil’s infection toll passed 347,000, and counting. National security advisor Robert O’Brien reaffirmed in a CBS interview that this protocol would only be temporary, saying that the White House would definitely “…take a look at the other countries on a country by country basis,” as the numbers around us shift every day. As this contagion has been active for the past six months, many countries are fearing for their economies and standard of living with lockdowns in place, seeking a reopening and resurgence of businesses.
However, as diseases of equivalent ferocity from the past have shown us, such as polio and the Spanish Flu, buckling down and sheltering in place is the strongest defence in our arsenal. So, in reality, it may not be enough to only block out those travelling from regions with a surge of sickness, but to cease all non-essential travel entirely. As of late, there has been a multitude of videos surfacing on the internet of people outraged to find their flights to different locations overly packed and not adhering to proper distancing or other medical regulations. This should not be happening, as every close encounter we share is a risk. Cancelling all leisurely air travel should be reevaluated as another option to stopping the spread of the disease until it is under control.
Brazil is a vibrant country with a beautiful culture and way of life to offer, but for now, we must part ways with our South American sister state so we can all survive this epidemic and embrace on the other side, united once again.