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Mr. President, Follow the South Korean Model to Defeat the Coronavirus

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews

Great job, President Trump. You've done the impossible. You've turned perhaps the worst crisis in USA history and one of the darkest periods Americans have ever suffered into a show of leadership and a jump in approval.


The latest ABC News/IPSOS poll shows a dramatic turnaround. At 55% to 43%, Americans approve of President Donald Trump's handling of this crisis. The numbers were nearly completely reversed only a week ago. Bravo.

But I have some advice you need to hear.

Now, keep in mind, I'm not one of the people who ever said this was a hoax. It's 100% real. It's a terrible health care crisis and tragedy.

But did it have to be a terrible economic crisis and tragedy, too? And who does that help, exactly? If Grandma, Grandpa or someone you love is sick, critically ill or, God forbid, at death's door, does it help that you've also lost your job, or your small business has just closed? Does it help that you just lost your income or life savings? Do you feel better about a health tragedy if you also have a personal economic tragedy to deal with?

The common-sense answer is of course not.

That's why we should follow the South Korean model, or at least as close to it as possible. The country has had the most success in the world at fighting and surviving the coronavirus pandemic. In a nation of 51 million (about 10 million more than the population of California), South Korea has had under 9,000 cases and under 100 deaths.

So why is the governor of California, Gavin Newsom, predicting that roughly 25.5 million of his citizens will get the virus? On what is he basing that number? If he assumes a 3% mortality rate, he must expect 500,000 to 1 million deaths just in California. But based on what? 


And is it irresponsible to scare his citizens half to death with over-the-top, hysterical, worst-worst-worst-case guesses modeled on computers?

Keep in mind the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention predicted over 1,000,000 cases of Ebola in Africa just a few years back. The actual number? Under 30,000. These are guesses on a computer screen -- hysterical, worst-case guesses.

These are two places similar in size, yet the governor of California is expecting a million deaths in his state versus under 100 deaths in South Korea? And Newsom is shutting down the state and California's economy based on those wild, worst-case guesses?  

Even if, God willing, we beat this terrible virus, what's the point if, after it's all over, we face a ruined economy, no job, a bankrupt business, no assets, no way to pay bills? This is madness.

Or what if COVID-19 turns into COVID-20 through COVID-30 and they attack us repeatedly over the next decade? Will we close down the economy twice a year every year? 

Try that a few times and we'll all be living in caves, using candles for light and newspapers for toilet paper, and carrying our supplies home on donkey carts. America will be a combination of Venezuela and "Mad Max."

My idea from day one was to put those already sick, the elderly, those with compromised immune systems and those at highest risk in quarantine for one to two months. 


But ask and encourage everyone else -- the young, the healthy, business owners and their employees -- to carry on and live life. Those least at risk should be asked to keep their businesses open, keep the economy going, go out to eat, keep their communities' small businesses in business, all so the sick, elderly and at-risk population have something to come back to in one to two months.

That's a Winston Churchill-like, stiff-upper-lip response.

I dare you to ask all those who are now laid off, jobless or with shuttered businesses whether they'd be willing to risk getting sick, or even risk a small chance of dying if they could get their business or job back. I'm betting the answer from a vast majority would be an emphatic YES! Let's put the heroes of the American business world to work!

The healthy need to go on living. We need to keep commerce going. Someone has to pay the bills and taxes, or our nation will be in ruins -- even if we beat this monster.

I found out yesterday from Dr. Mehmet Oz, a brilliant, breath-of-fresh-air guest on my national radio show, that this is almost exactly the plan carried out in South Korea. The sick and at-risk were quarantined. Everyone else went to work. No businesses were closed. No economy was shut down. Now there's under 100 dead in a country of 51 million. And they still have their economy and jobs.


So, Mr. President, please study the South Korean model. Let's not ruin the greatest country and economy in world history. The business of America is business. Let's get back to it -- while we protect the most vulnerable and fight this terrible virus with everything we've got.

Wayne Allyn Root is a CEO, entrepreneur, bestselling author, nationally syndicated talk-show host on USA Radio Network and the host of "The Wayne Allyn Root Show" on Newsmax TV nightly at 11 p.m. Eastern/8 p.m. Pacific.

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