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Fox News’ Jesse Watters Said Travel Bans ‘More Critical In Saving Lives’ Than COVID Testing. He’s Wrong.

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[partner-box]Defending President Donald Trump’s coronavirus response, Fox News commentator Jesse Watters highlighted federal efforts to limit worldwide vacationers who could also be contaminated — a ban he claimed mattered greater than diagnostic testing.

“We were slow with the testing, but very quick with the travel ban. And that’s been much more critical in saving lives,” Watters mentioned throughout a March 31 episode of “The Five.”

The administration has attracted stinging criticism from public well being consultants and state officers, who say the dearth of COVID-19 exams has made it unattainable to get a deal with on the illness’s unfold. But the influence of the restrictions Trump imposed ― on individuals touring from China and, by March, Europe — is one other story.

So we determined to dig in. We contacted Fox News to search out out the proof on which Watters based mostly his remark however didn’t hear again.

Early on, these restrictions gained plaudits. After the March restrictions have been introduced, Dr. Anthony Fauci, who heads the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and is a member of the White House coronavirus job pressure, said there was “compelling evidence” to justify proscribing journey from these high-infection areas.

But the implementation is one other story. Global well being specialists advised us there’s little to no proof that Trump’s restrictions have restrained COVID-19 ― they got here too late and didn’t have the follow-up essential to make an actual dent. By distinction, they mentioned, higher and earlier testing might have saved numerous lives.

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The Wrong Approach At The Wrong Time

Targeted, fast journey restrictions may be a part of the general public well being arsenal to regulate the unfold of an sickness similar to COVID-19.

The concept is to cease individuals in sizzling spots from carrying the virus to uninfected areas. The restrictions additionally tamp down the danger that an contaminated traveler will expose others within the closed quarters of an airport, airplane or different mode of transportation.

But the consultants we spoke to made clear that these restrictions can work solely as one (smaller) a part of a complete technique. Without different aggressive public well being measures, they’d have little worth. The timing of American restrictions — and the way they interacted with different home efforts ― rendered them ineffective.

The administration’s first coronavirus-related journey restrictions took impact Feb. 2, concentrating on noncitizens who had lately traveled to or from China. On Feb. 29, it took comparable steps with individuals who had traveled to or from Iran.

For context, the incidence of a extreme respiratory sickness started to emerge in China late final 12 months. These circumstances have been confirmed to be a novel coronavirus by Jan. 7, and the primary American case was reported Jan. 20 — nearly two weeks earlier than any journey restrictions have been in impact.

Expanded journey restrictions took impact March 13 and 16 to incorporate individuals in Europe, together with the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Experts advised us these measures represented the fallacious method on the fallacious time.

“When the travel ban was put in place, the risk of importation from China was quite small,” mentioned William Hanage, an affiliate professor of epidemiology on the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

For one factor, China had additionally put in place its personal limitations on journey ― limiting journey to and from Wuhan beginning Jan. 23. And, by then, there have been already a number of circumstances of COVID-19 throughout the United States and in different international locations that had not been focused by restrictions.

And whereas European circumstances shot up in early March — notably in Italy ― even these journey restrictions have been misplaced, Hanage mentioned. At that time, Americans already confronted a home risk from the virus.

So was the administration “very quick” with a journey ban? Not actually.

If something, the journey limitations gave individuals “a false sense that something with a big impact was being done,” mentioned Jennifer Kates, a vice chairman and international well being skilled on the Kaiser Family Foundation. (Kaiser Health News is an editorially unbiased program of the muse.)

That false safety, others mentioned, distracted from the truth that extra important precautions weren’t in place.

Limited Effectiveness Without Widespread Testing

Well-implemented journey restrictions should purchase time on the margins, analysis suggests. But that point must be used successfully — to ramp up emergency preparedness and bolster actions like testing and isolating individuals who could have been uncovered.

And there isn’t a option to know if the administration’s preliminary journey restriction ― barring individuals who had been to China — diminished the unfold of the coronavirus.

That’s as a result of the administration restricted testing for the virus to individuals who have been sick sufficient to be hospitalized or who had been to Wuhan lately. Those are individuals with a heightened threat of publicity and never consultant of the broader swath of individuals affected by the journey limitations, mentioned Jennifer Nuzzo, a senior scholar on the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.

“Had we expanded testing during this time and still found few cases, I would be more convinced that the travel ban had an impact. But we didn’t.”

Available analysis on journey bans isn’t promising, both.

A March 20 evaluation run by Think Global Health, a venture of the Council on Foreign Relations, in contrast international locations that did and didn’t prohibit journey with China. The researchers discovered no correlation between journey restrictions and stopping a pandemic outbreak.

“The combination of the travel restrictions within China and international travel restrictions against China may have delayed the spread of COVID-19, but more so in nations that used that time to reduce community spread of the virus,” the researchers wrote.

That final half is essential ― journey restrictions could have purchased time, however that mattered provided that international locations actively fought home unfold.

Other analysis backs that up. A paper published in Science final month discovered that when China imposed its personal journey restrictions, it made solely a modest distinction in curbing the unfold of the coronavirus, each domestically and to different international locations — at most, shopping for just a few days’ time. And, this paper additionally notes, journey restrictions have been efficient solely when coupled with different efforts to halt transmission.

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By distinction, researchers have been unanimous in noting the effectiveness of strong testing of people that could have been uncovered — after which isolating those that check constructive for the virus. This test-and-quarantine method has been confirmed efficient in South Korea, which skilled its first case on the identical day as within the U.S. however the place the variety of new COVID-19 circumstances is now on a dramatic decline.

If you possibly can choose just one technique ― journey bans or testing — the selection is evident, Nuzzo argued.

“We don’t have any evidence that travel bans did much to stop or slow the spread,” she mentioned. “Conversely, testing is essential. Had we been better able to find and isolate cases and traced their contacts, we could have kept case numbers down.”

The World Health Organization makes an identical level: It says non permanent restrictions are justified solely in slender circumstances and as a manner to purchase time. But that point, the group says, should be used to “rapidly implement effective preparedness measures” ― like testing.

Another level that helps this place: the real-world expertise unfolding within the United States.

The “travel ban didn’t work,” mentioned Lawrence Gostin, a college professor at Georgetown Law who focuses on international well being legislation. “This is self-evident, because the U.S. is now the global epicenter.”

Our Ruling

Arguing in assist of the White House coronavirus response, Watters mentioned the United States was “very quick with the travel ban” and that was “much more critical in saving lives.”

This is inaccurate. Travel restrictions might have purchased a little bit of time. But they have been instituted after the coronavirus had already entered the United States.

And the proof at hand suggests journey restrictions are handiest in combating viral unfold if they’re accompanied by focused, sturdy testing and quarantining, that are the areas wherein the administration stumbled. If you have been to choose just one space to excel in — testing individuals for the coronavirus, or journey restrictions ― consultants advised us the analysis clearly helps testing, even with out journey bans.

Watters’ declare has no factual foundation and misrepresents real-world proof on a number of ranges. We fee it False.

This story may be republished without spending a dime (details). Defending President Donald Trump’s coronavirus response, Fox News commentator Jesse Watters highlighted federal efforts to limit worldwide vacationers who could also be contaminated — a ban he claimed mattered greater than diagnostic testing.

“We were slow with the testing, but very quick with the travel ban. And that’s been much more critical in saving lives,” Watters mentioned throughout a March 31 episode of “The Five.”

The administration has attracted stinging criticism from public well being consultants and state officers, who say the dearth of COVID-19 exams has made it unattainable to get a deal with on the illness’s unfold. But the influence of the restrictions Trump imposed ― on individuals touring from China and, by March, Europe — is one other story.

So we determined to dig in. We contacted Fox News to search out out the proof on which Watters based mostly his remark however didn’t hear again.

Early on, these restrictions gained plaudits. After the March restrictions have been introduced, Dr. Anthony Fauci, who heads the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and is a member of the White House coronavirus job pressure, said there was “compelling evidence” to justify proscribing journey from these high-infection areas.

But the implementation is one other story. Global well being specialists advised us there’s little to no proof that Trump’s restrictions have restrained COVID-19 ― they got here too late and didn’t have the follow-up essential to make an actual dent. By distinction, they mentioned, higher and earlier testing might have saved numerous lives.

The Wrong Approach At The Wrong Time

Targeted, fast journey restrictions may be a part of the general public well being arsenal to regulate the unfold of an sickness similar to COVID-19.

The concept is to cease individuals in sizzling spots from carrying the virus to uninfected areas. The restrictions additionally tamp down the danger that an contaminated traveler will expose others within the closed quarters of an airport, airplane or different mode of transportation.

But the consultants we spoke to made clear that these restrictions can work solely as one (smaller) a part of a complete technique. Without different aggressive public well being measures, they’d have little worth. The timing of American restrictions — and the way they interacted with different home efforts ― rendered them ineffective.

The administration’s first coronavirus-related journey restrictions took impact Feb. 2, concentrating on noncitizens who had lately traveled to or from China. On Feb. 29, it took comparable steps with individuals who had traveled to or from Iran.

For context, the incidence of a extreme respiratory sickness started to emerge in China late final 12 months. These circumstances have been confirmed to be a novel coronavirus by Jan. 7, and the primary American case was reported Jan. 20 — nearly two weeks earlier than any journey restrictions have been in impact.

Expanded journey restrictions took impact March 13 and 16 to incorporate individuals in Europe, together with the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Experts advised us these measures represented the fallacious method on the fallacious time.

“When the travel ban was put in place, the risk of importation from China was quite small,” mentioned William Hanage, an affiliate professor of epidemiology on the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

For one factor, China had additionally put in place its personal limitations on journey ― limiting journey to and from Wuhan beginning Jan. 23. And, by then, there have been already a number of circumstances of COVID-19 throughout the United States and in different international locations that had not been focused by restrictions.

And whereas European circumstances shot up in early March — notably in Italy ― even these journey restrictions have been misplaced, Hanage mentioned. At that time, Americans already confronted a home risk from the virus.

So was the administration “very quick” with a journey ban? Not actually.

If something, the journey limitations gave individuals “a false sense that something with a big impact was being done,” mentioned Jennifer Kates, a vice chairman and international well being skilled on the Kaiser Family Foundation. (Kaiser Health News is an editorially unbiased program of the muse.)

That false safety, others mentioned, distracted from the truth that extra important precautions weren’t in place.

Limited Effectiveness Without Widespread Testing

Well-implemented journey restrictions should purchase time on the margins, analysis suggests. But that point must be used successfully — to ramp up emergency preparedness and bolster actions like testing and isolating individuals who could have been uncovered.

And there isn’t a option to know if the administration’s preliminary journey restriction ― barring individuals who had been to China — diminished the unfold of the coronavirus.

That’s as a result of the administration restricted testing for the virus to individuals who have been sick sufficient to be hospitalized or who had been to Wuhan lately. Those are individuals with a heightened threat of publicity and never consultant of the broader swath of individuals affected by the journey limitations, mentioned Jennifer Nuzzo, a senior scholar on the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.

“Had we expanded testing during this time and still found few cases, I would be more convinced that the travel ban had an impact. But we didn’t.”

Available analysis on journey bans isn’t promising, both.

A March 20 evaluation run by Think Global Health, a venture of the Council on Foreign Relations, in contrast international locations that did and didn’t prohibit journey with China. The researchers discovered no correlation between journey restrictions and stopping a pandemic outbreak.

“The combination of the travel restrictions within China and international travel restrictions against China may have delayed the spread of COVID-19, but more so in nations that used that time to reduce community spread of the virus,” the researchers wrote.

That final half is essential ― journey restrictions could have purchased time, however that mattered provided that international locations actively fought home unfold.

Other analysis backs that up. A paper published in Science final month discovered that when China imposed its personal journey restrictions, it made solely a modest distinction in curbing the unfold of the coronavirus, each domestically and to different international locations — at most, shopping for just a few days’ time. And, this paper additionally notes, journey restrictions have been efficient solely when coupled with different efforts to halt transmission.

By distinction, researchers have been unanimous in noting the effectiveness of strong testing of people that could have been uncovered — after which isolating those that check constructive for the virus. This test-and-quarantine method has been confirmed efficient in South Korea, which skilled its first case on the identical day as within the U.S. however the place the variety of new COVID-19 circumstances is now on a dramatic decline.

If you possibly can choose just one technique ― journey bans or testing — the selection is evident, Nuzzo argued.

“We don’t have any evidence that travel bans did much to stop or slow the spread,” she mentioned. “Conversely, testing is essential. Had we been better able to find and isolate cases and traced their contacts, we could have kept case numbers down.”

The World Health Organization makes an identical level: It says non permanent restrictions are justified solely in slender circumstances and as a manner to purchase time. But that point, the group says, should be used to “rapidly implement effective preparedness measures” ― like testing.

Another level that helps this place: the real-world expertise unfolding within the United States.

The “travel ban didn’t work,” mentioned Lawrence Gostin, a college professor at Georgetown Law who focuses on international well being legislation. “This is self-evident, because the U.S. is now the global epicenter.”

Our Ruling

Arguing in assist of the White House coronavirus response, Watters mentioned the United States was “very quick with the travel ban” and that was “much more critical in saving lives.”

This is inaccurate. Travel restrictions might have purchased a little bit of time. But they have been instituted after the coronavirus had already entered the United States.

And the proof at hand suggests journey restrictions are handiest in combating viral unfold if they’re accompanied by focused, sturdy testing and quarantining, that are the areas wherein the administration stumbled. If you have been to choose just one space to excel in — testing individuals for the coronavirus, or journey restrictions ― consultants advised us the analysis clearly helps testing, even with out journey bans.

Watters’ declare has no factual foundation and misrepresents real-world proof on a number of ranges. We fee it False.

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