Given that we are now the epicenter of the coronavirus, and that we have more of these cases than any other nation, we should tell the world: "Don't come — it's not safe."
We should make the message particularly loud and clear in the lands south of us. One of the reactions, one hopes, would be reduced illegal migration from Central America and Mexico.
The message might continue: "You may be poor and hungry and underemployed, but that's better than being dead."
Part of that message should be statistical — as of April 2, for example, a resident of Mexico is 50 times more likely to die of the virus if she or he comes to the United States rather than staying at home. The ratios for other countries are not as large, but are still significant.
While the president appears unlikely to talk along these lines, he might let Dr. Fauci, our ambassadors in Latin America, and the Voice of America radio service start conveying this message, which can sound selfless on our part.
Clearly a part of the reason for these ratios is that our public health system is better at identifying cases than most in the continent (Canada always excepted) and perhaps the virus is less advanced in most nations compared to the United States, but these ratios are striking.
Yes, the United States is the most populous of the nations north of the Panama Canal, but it has something like 16 times as many cases as the rest of North America combined, while it has only about 1.5 times the population of the rest of the continent, including Cuba.
Here are the numbers as of April 2:
Incidence of the Coronavirus
1 M Population
|Total, Excluding U.S.||228.6||13,327||224|
Sources: "Confirmed Cases and Deaths by Country, Territory, or Conveyance",
Panama, with a modest population, is high on this table, perhaps because of its constant contact with the rest of the maritime world, and perhaps because of a better virus testing system than its Central American neighbors, or both.
What the numbers say, in sum, is: Stay away from the United States!