The Spanish and French governments announced lockdowns for their citizens in order to stop the rapidly spreading COVID-19. Other nations have adopted entry bans to keep out foreign travelers as schools, most non-essential stores, and offices are shut down.
The disease has infected 156,000 people globally and killed more than 5,800.
Spain put its 47 million inhabitants under partial lockdown on Saturday as part of a 15-day state of emergency to combat the epidemic in Europe’s second worst-affected country after Italy.
Streets in Madrid and Barcelona were deserted on Sunday. All major newspapers carried a front-page wrapper emblazoned with a government-promoted slogan: “Together we’ll stop this virus.”
Spain has had 193 deaths from the virus and 6,250 cases so far, public broadcaster TVE said on Sunday.
The Spanish health ministry announced 1,500 new cases in a single day.
France’s decision was somewhat unexpected, but necessary given the rapid spread of infection.
France will shut shops, restaurants and entertainment facilities from Sunday with its 67 million people were told to stay home after confirmed infections doubled in 72 hours.
French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said the government had no other option after the public health authority said 91 people had died in France and almost 4,500 were now infected.
“We must absolutely limit our movements,” he said.
Great Britain has been mostly spared the outbreak, but is taking several precautionary measures, including banning large gatherings and isolating the elderly.
In Italy, the lockdown has affected Pope Francis’s Easter Week events, one of the holiest and busiest times in Rome.
All of Pope Francis’ Easter services next month will be held without the faithful attending, the Vatican said on Sunday, in a step believed to be unprecedented in modern times.
The services, four days of major events from Holy Thursday to Easter Sunday, usually draw tens of thousands of people to sites in Rome and in the Vatican.
With the United States being a federal republic, Washington is rightly allowing individual state governments to determine the best course of action to deal with the pandemic. The state of Washington’s response is different than the New York response, which is different than Georgia’s. While all these politicians clamor for “federal action,” the states are doing quite well without Washington looking over their shoulders telling them what to do.
The federal government should, and is, facilitating the distribution of supplies and providing expertise and guidance. Beyond that, and giving the states cash to deal with the crisis, what is it that these “expert” politicians want from Washington?
Other nations haven’t politicized the crisis half as much as the U.S. Here, it’s business as usual for the opposition. If anything, attacks on the administration have become more hysterical, more exaggerated than usual.
Trump has played his role as partisan, so it’s not entirely a one-way street. It’s a tragedy that even in the face of a pandemic national leaders can only snipe at each other.