Wake up, America | AspenTimes.com

Wake up, America

A month ago, my wife and I returned to the United States after a trip to Asia and southern Africa. A few observations.

On Feb. 12 we had two flights on Qatar Airways when flying from Thailand to South Africa. When we landed in Doha, Qatar, medical workers boarded the plane in protective gear, questioned everyone, and checked their temperature, as they deplaned. There was hand sanitizer everywhere. We then transferred to our flight to Johannesburg, South Africa, and people were once again checked before boarding. Upon arrival in Johannesburg, medical staff boarded the plane and checked everyone before letting them into the country.

Three weeks later, on March 2, and with the spread of the virus speeding up everyday, we flew from Capetown to Newark/New York. Upon arrival, we expected to see medical screening and heavy sanitation efforts taking place. Instead there were no med-techs checking people as we got off. There were very few employees wearing protective masks. When we processed through global entry there were no wipe-downs of the automated kiosks either before or after someone used them. Place your passport face down, place your fingers on the touch pad, get your receipt and away you go. Next.

The United States spends more on “military defense” and perceived threats than the next seven highest spenders in the world combined. We can destroy any country on the planet many times over in a matter of minutes, but we fail to prepare and act when it comes to “defending” our own country’s health from “real” threats. And recently I read in this very paper that the Chinese are now sending U.S. 1,000 ventilators. And we wonder, “Why?”

Paul Hilts


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