The role of the government should be minimal in the lives of the citizens of a society. The government should not have a significant role in regulating business nor in managing the economy. However, the government should maintain a role in protecting its citizens and, if there is an event that threatens the health and well-being of its citizens, there is no question that the government has the responsibility to intervene. How much the government should intervene remains an important question to consider.
As the situation of the spread of the 2019 Coronavirus continues to evolve, the question of what governments around the world should do in response is continuing to spread as well.
The World Health Organization has labeled the Coronavirus a public-health emergency of international concern and with multiple cases being reported in the United States. As a result, there has been increasing international pressure placed on the U.S. as to what the proper government response should be.
By most standards, the U.S. response has been swift. Currently, the State Department has raised the travel advisory to China as a level 4 threat, suggesting that U.S. citizens should not travel to China. Additionally, the Department of Defense has already taken steps to protect and quarantine the small number of American citizens that have traveled from Wuhan.
Because the virus is not incredibly infectious, nor fatal, more drastic government measures are not necessary at this time for U.S. citizens. Due to the limited number of cases on American soil, the United States government does not need to take the kind of drastic measures that China has done in quarantining over 50 million individuals and preventing individuals from traveling within the country. Overall, the United States has accomplished all it would need to in this situation, regardless of the W.H.O’s declaration of Coronavirus as a global emergency.
Although it seems as though the Chinese government is taking more proactive measures than other countries, it is also important to note that this is largely due to the international backlash they have received. This backlash began as a result of their underreporting SARS infection rates. Further, there are still reports circulating that the virus is much more infectious than previously thought. These reports are ironic considering that China has accused the United States government of responding “inappropriately to the outbreak and feeding mass hysteria.”
In the face of so many unknowns and misleading information, it is important to understand that mass hysteria is not the answer. The only circumstance in which the government should increase its role in response to the coronavirus would be if the severity of the coronavirus increases. If the virus evolves to be more contagious and deadly, then the government should be more extreme in its measures to protect its citizens.
Conservatives have maintained the fundamental belief that the government should have a limited role in the lives of its citizens. However, in extraordinary circumstances, such as the emergence of a virus that threatens the majority of its citizens, the government must increase its role when necessary.
At the moment, the proactive measures of limiting travel to China and screening citizens who have recently traveled there are sufficient enough.