Did Kobe Bryant Death Take Our Eye Off Impending Coronavirus Pandemic?


There’s a meme going around the internet today claiming that the coronavirus infections in the United States back in January were overshadowed by the untimely death of NBA legend Kobe Bryant, but is it true?

Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash and his death was front-page news on January 27th and it went on for days.  Lost in the shuffle, was reportedly a front-page story about the incoming coronavirus, which could have been the top story of the day but took a back seat to Kobe’s death.   Did it affect America’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic? Highly doubtful.  Nancy Pelosi’s impeachment trial might have had something to do with it, as the President claims, but even that is far-fetched.

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It turns out, that yes, sometimes, if it’s on the internet, it is true.  The story circulating the internet did happen.  In fact, on January 27th, 5 people in the United States were already tested positive for coronavirus and 110 others in 26 states were suspected of having the disease.

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When did coronavirus start?

According to the New England Journal of Medicine, As of January 30, 2020, a total of 9976 cases had been reported in at least 21 countries,7 including the first confirmed case of 2019-nCoV infection in the United States, reported on January 20, 2020. Investigations are underway worldwide to better understand transmission dynamics and the spectrum of clinical illness. This report describes the epidemiologic and clinical features of the first case of 2019-nCoV infection confirmed in the United States.

“More than 100 people in 26 states are being monitored for the new coronavirus that has killed 81 people in China, a U.S. health official said Monday,” the story read.  So by the end of January, the seeds of the coronavirus were planted throughout the United States, 45 days prior to any talks of restrictions.

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Did Trump really screw up?

What does this mean?  Did President Donald J. Trump drop the ball?

If you remember at the time, not much was known about the virus, because it was just starting to increase in China, where it originated.   President Trump did take the information and began looking into travel restrictions from China, but also lost in the headlines was the fierce opposition he received on Capitol Hill for doing so.

Democrats were in denial, fought travel restrictions from China.

House Democrats were outraged over the President’s China travel restrictions.

“The Trump Administration’s expansion of its outrageous, un-American travel ban threatens our security, our values and the rule of law. The sweeping rule, barring more than 350 million individuals from predominantly African nations from traveling to the United States, is discrimination disguised as policy,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement.

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So yes, the story is true, the coronavirus was already spreading throughout the United States on January 27th and there was a front-page headline in that day’s edition of USA Today.  Whether or not political jockeying on either side of the aisle could have changed the course of history is highly doubtful…the virus was already here and spreading.