+
upworthy
Democracy

Global preparedness expert shares the presidential speech we really need to hear

Global preparedness expert shares the presidential speech we really need to hear

Judging by today's plunging stock market and the White House scrambling to correct three crucial pieces of information, last night's presidential address (which you can read in its entirety here) did little to reassure the country that the government is adeptly handling the coronavirus pandemic.

A mere few hours after the president concluded his remarks, global preparedness and humanitarian response expert Jeremy Konyndyk took to Twitter and shared the address that Americans really needed to hear.


I don't think it's overstating to say it's pretty much perfection. Check it out:

"My fellow Americans, the next few months are going to be hard. For many of us, harder than anything we've faced in our lifetimes. Life in our country is about to change. We must unify against this threat like we unified after 9/11.

And indeed, this virus threatens to kill more Americans than terrorism ever has.

But we can defeat it, and we will defeat it. My administration has a plan to lead this fight. I will outline that plan in a moment.

But more important than the plan is this:

We must all own this fight.

Defeating this outbreak will take science and medicine, but it will also take unity and partnership—from all of us. For now, medicine cannot defeat this disease. But *people* can. We have no vaccine, we have no treatment, although we are working furiously to develop both.

Until then, what we have is us. Our choices, our decisions, our behavior—that is how we will do this.

Here is the plan. Our most important priority over the coming months is to protect our highest-risk citizens, and the hospitals that will work to save them if they become ill.

We have seen what happened in Wuhan, and is happening in Iran and Italy. We should not imagine it cannot happen here. Make no mistake: this is a dangerous disease. While most who contract it become only mildly ill, it is extremely deadly for the elderly and people with chronic health problems.

You may be one of those people, or you may love one of those people—all of us have a stake in this. That is why tonight I am announcing national policy guidance on social distancing, and tomorrow I will be speaking with every governor in the country to secure their commitment to implement this guidance.

This must be a whole-of-society effort. We do not want to lock down our population as China did. But to avoid that, we must apply universal and aggressive public measures to slow the spread.

Even if you are young and low risk, you can still contract and spread it. And that threatens those who are at higher risk. So I am calling on all communities to suspend all mass gatherings of over 50 people.

I applaud the brave and difficult decisions made today by the NCAA and NBA—they are leading by example. I call on other business and civic leaders to follow them. These important measures are how we can protect our health system. We must ensure that those who do fall sick can obtain the quality care that they need, and survive. Aggressive social distancing measures help achieve this by reducing the number of people sick at any one time.

Reducing the number of people who are sick at once is the best way to keep our health system from being overwhelmed. And that in turn helps not just COVID-19 patients but also everyone else who must seek treatment in a hospital. You will learn more about these measures in the coming days, and I beg you to abide by them.

Social distancing, along with handwashing, are the most important things that average Americans can do to defeat this disease. Next, we must protect Americans who are highest risk from this virus. I have directed HHS to refocus the federal Public Health Service to reinforce their state and local counterparts on outreach and support to high risk people and facilities.

But they can't do this alone. We must all work to ensure that every seniors' home, retirement community, and other high-risk facility has the support it needs to prevent infections. And I urge Americans to take ownership of this. If you have loved ones in a high-risk facility - join us in this effort.

Next we must ensure that our nation's hospitals have the resources and support that they need to manage the coming flood of cases. While I fervently hope that we will not see the severe case volumes witnessed in China and Italy—we must be ready for that scenario. That is why I am directing HHS to immediately make urgent resources and support available to hospitals to safely isolate and treat COVID-19 patients.

I am also directing the military to make military doctors available to expand critical care capacity around the country. And I am directing the Army Corps of Engineers to help hospitals expand their intensive care facilities, and also to rapidly establish drive-through testing, which have proved successful in South Korea.

And let's talk about testing. First, I apologize.

I and my administration bungled this badly, but we are moving with total urgency to fix the problem. Public health labs and major research institutions across the country will now have free rein to initiate widespread testing, and the federal government will reimburse this fully.

This rapid expansion of testing will be available, free of charge, to every American. And if you feel ill, or suspect you have been exposed, I urge you to be tested so that you can self-quarantine if needed. Self-quarantine is a powerful tool against this virus.

Finally, we must protect our economy, and also protect those who may be most hurt by mass social distancing measures. Gig workers; hourly wage-earners; small businesses; event planners—all will face economic hardship over the next several months.

I am announcing tonight the creation of a social distancing empowerment fund, which will provide modest bailouts to self-employed workers and small business owners who lose significant income due to our new distancing guidelines.

These measures - mass social distancing, protecting our highest risk citizens, and protecting our hospital system—are the critical trifecta that will restrain fatalities in our country while helping to bring disease transmission under control. But none of this works without you. You—every citizen—must own this fight.

I know many of you do not trust me, and do not often wish me to succeed. But in this I will do my best to deserve your trust, and once this is over we can go back to fighting over judges and policy. This will be a long hard fight. But we must prevail and we will prevail. I commit to you that I and everyone in the federal government will do our part; and we call on you to do yours.

Good night."

I don't know about you, but just reading that speech made me feel better. If the president had given this address, I'd be left feeling like the president not only understands the full scope and gravity of the situation, but also how to get the country all on the same page with what specific actions to take and why.

Konyndyk is a global outbreak preparedness and humanitarian response expert with the Center for Global Development, as well as a member of the World Health Organization's high-level Independent Oversight and Advisory Committee. Seems it would have been wise for the president to have asked him to write his pandemic speech. And maybe even oversee the administration's response to the pandemic as well, instead of putting people with no experience and a huge learning curve in charge.

What a startling contrast that would have been.

Pop Culture

Two brothers Irish stepdancing to Beyoncé's country hit 'Texas Hold 'Em' is pure delight

The Gardiner Brothers and Queen Bey proving that music can unite us all.

Gardiner Brothers/TikTok (with permission)

The Gardiner Brothers stepping in time to Beyoncé's "Texas Hold 'Em."

In early February 2024, Beyoncé rocked the music world by releasing a surprise new album of country tunes. The album, Renaissance: Act II, includes a song called "Texas Hold 'Em," which shot up the country charts—with a few bumps along the way—and landed Queen Bey at the No.1 spot.

As the first Black female artist to have a song hit No. 1 on Billboard's country music charts, Beyoncé once again proved her popularity, versatility and ability to break barriers without missing a beat. In one fell swoop, she got people who had zero interest in country music to give it a second look, forced country music fans to broaden their own ideas about what country music looks like and prompted conversations about bending and blending musical genres and styles.

And she inspired the Gardiner Brothers to add yet another element to the mix—Irish stepdance.

Keep ReadingShow less
Health

Motivation expert explains how two simple words can free you from taking things personally

You don't need to take responsibility for everything and everyone.

Mel Robinson making a TED Talk.

Towards the end of The Beatles’ illustrious but brief career, Paul McCartney wrote “Let it Be,” a song about finding peace by letting events take their natural course. It was a sentiment that seemed to mirror the feeling of resignation the band had with its imminent demise.

The bittersweet song has had an appeal that has lasted generations and that may be because it reflects an essential psychological concept: the locus of control.

“It’s about understanding where our influence ends and accepting that some things are beyond our control,” Jennifer Chappell Marsh, a marriage and family therapist, told The Huffington Post. “We can’t control others, so instead, we should focus on our own actions and responses.”

Keep ReadingShow less

A mother confronts her daughter for judging her friend's weight.

A 42-year-old mother wondered whether she did the right thing by disciplining her 18-year-old daughter, Abby, who disinvited a friend from vacation because of her weight. The mother asked people on Reddit for their opinion.

For some background, Abby had struggled with her weight for many years, so she went to her mother for help. The two set up a program where Abby was given a reward for every milestone she achieved.

“Four months ago, she asked that I don't get her any more rewards and add it up to her birthday gift, and for her gift she wants a vacation I will pay for, for her and her friends instead of the huge party I had promised for her 18th. I said OK,” the mother wrote.

Keep ReadingShow less
Heroes

This quick-thinking teen cleverly befriended a woman's kidnapper to rescue her

Malyk Bonnet did a very brave thing: He listened to his gut.


You've probably been there. You're out and about and you see something that just feels ... off.

"Should I step in? ... But it's not really any of my business. ... And I'm not even sure they need my help..."

Keep ReadingShow less
Health

This mom's empowering selfies show off life with an invisible illness.

She's reclaiming her confidence and sharing what it can really mean to be a mom with Crohn's disease.

All photos by Krystal Miller, used with permission.

Krystal, Arabella, and Lukas.


There are a lot of hard things about living with Crohn's disease. Not being able to talk about it might be the worst one.

Imagine being constantly tired, but in a way that even 15 hours of sleep a day can't cure. Imagine going to dinner, but every time you eat something as simple as a roll of warm bread, it feels like it might've had broken glass inside of it.

Then, it's time to go to the bathroom. Again. Is that the fifth time this hour or the sixth? You've lost track. It's a running joke now — your friends think it's funny, but nobody really talks about what happens when you step away. Because, really, you look fine. Just tired.

Keep ReadingShow less
Education

A school assignment asked for 3 benefits of slavery. This kid gave the only good answer.

The school assignment was intended to spark debate and discussion — but isn't that part of the problem?

A school assignment asked for 3 "good" reasons for slavery.



It's not uncommon for parents to puzzle over their kids' homework.

Sometimes, it's just been too long since they've done long division for them to be of any help. Or teaching methods have just changed too dramatically since they were in school.

And other times, kids bring home something truly inexplicable.
Keep ReadingShow less