Babiš Goes From Covid Hero to Covid Zero

Andrej Babiš is the Czech Prime Minister and leader of the right-wing ANO party. Last March he was hailed for taking swift decisive action to control the Covid-19 pandemic. He ordered a near total shutdown, required wearing of face masks, stopped tourism both to and from the country, and enforced social distancing. As surrounding nations suffered, the Czech Republic went through April, May, and June relatively unscathed. The Czech Republic was a model for the world. Babiš was a hero.

We enjoyed our summer relatively free of the virus. Then it all went wrong. Babiš, who in March had listened to the scientists, started to ignore them. He insisted that we needed tourism business and he promoted incoming tourists and Czechs going abroad, even to countries which had not fully controlled the pandemic. The reproduction number crept up above 1.0. The scientists said some restrictions were now necessary. Babiš refused. In late August, he overruled the orders of his own health minister to protect the people when schools reopened in September. Thanks to Babiš, instead of masks and social distancing, the Czech people got a rapidly escalating pandemic.

The results of Babiš’s initial actions and later negligence can be easily seen:

Daily Covid-19 infection rate
Daily Covid-19 infection rate in Czech Republic

In the first wave, it took six to eight weeks for the restrictions to control the virus. When tourism restarted, there was an immediate rise, then four weeks later a larger, sustained rise. Then the reopening of schools without corresponding restrictions added fuel to the fire. In May and June, the Czech Republic had one of the lowest infection rates; in October, it had the highest.

Masks work, and choosing health over the economy works.


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