Last night, Trump finally acknowledged the seriousness of the COVID-19 outbreak in the US and put in place a necessary first step to reduce the number of deaths in the US: restricting travel from 26 countries in Europe to the US for the next 30 days. He bungled this announcement in a number of ways, but exempting the UK appears to be purely political. He says that the UK is doing a great job of handling the coronavirus while all the evidence points to gross mismanagement of the outbreak by Boris Johnson. The following graph shows that the UK is still in the uncontrolled exponential phase of infection and there is no sign that it will not grow as bad as Italy or Iran.
The current mortality rate is 1.7% and the best guess lagged5 mortality rate is 4.8% — near the global average. The hotness measure for the UK is 8.7 per million citizens so they still have a chance to stop the carnage if they act quickly before the medical system gets overwhelmed. For Trump to cordon off much of hot Europe but allow the entry of potentially infected UK citizens makes little sense. He should base his decision to buffer the US on facts — not politics. The virus does not discriminate between Brits, Americans, and Italians.
In any case, this first step will not stop the coronavirus from spreading in the US since it is already inside. Many observers were looking for Trump to declare a national emergency and put plans into place for imposing internal quarantines like one for New Rochelle, NY. This along with leadership regarding social distancing could do more to reduce the eventual fatality count in the US. Instead he continues to flaunt his fabled immunity and hold massive rallies counter to the advice of doctors and scientists and nearly every other government official. Further there were no announcements of substantial policy changes such as paid sick leave and universal free virus testing and treatment that would help to ensure that every infected patient is identified and treated.