Within just a few weeks of thousands of cases emerging halfway around the world, the threat of the dangerous coronavirus arrived on Pennsylvania’s border last week.

Two students at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, may have brought the pneumonia-like virus back from China in recent days. The U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is monitoring the pair who recently traveled together to China and may have contracted the illness there.

Since returning to southwest Ohio, one of the students has become ill with flu-like symptoms consistent with the virus that has claimed 361 lives in China and sickened more than 17,000 people.

The Trump administration also has offered to help China deal with the virus while authorities in this country have announced anyone flying to the United States from Wuhan will be routed to one of five American airports, at which passengers will be screened when they land.

About half a dozen cases have been identified so far in the United States as the virus has begun to spread beyond its origin point in China.

Managing the potential global threat of the contagion will require both calm and urgency, as well as cooperation and transparency among the world’s health authorities. Everything we have learned from previous contagious disease outbreaks — including the similar SARS outbreak in 2003 — should have prepared us well to contain the spread of the new coronavirus and minimize its impact.

Unlike the SARS outbreak, Chinese officials seem to be more transparent and communicative with other nations about the new coronavirus. This is essential, as is a willingness among the rest of the global community to offer whatever resources the Chinese can use to treat the illness and minimize its spread.

Individuals have a part to play in thwarting the spread of the coronavirus too. As with the flu and other potentially deadly contagious diseases, frequent hand washing is essential, and those who are feeling ill should stay at home. Also, in this special case, Americans who do not need to travel to China should avoid doing so until this potentially deadly virus is contained.

— Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Safety report troubling

Given all that is at stake every time a plane takes flight, a new report questions Federal Aviation Administration oversight of Southwest Airlines is concerning. The bottom line conclusion from a Wall Street Journal article on a Transportation Department report is this: Southwest didn’t do enough to ensure the safety of its planes and the FAA didn’t do much about it.

Or as the Journal reports: “Following a roughly 18-month inquiry, the inspector general found FAA managers in the Dallas-area office that supervises Southwest routinely allowed the carrier ‘to fly aircraft with unresolved safety concerns.’”

Southwest flatly denied the findings and the FAA isn’t talking.

Airlines are in a precarious place now. Many travelers conflate, fairly or not, Boeing’s struggles over the 737 Max with the airline industry in general, and Southwest had signed up to be the largest customer of that model. It’s crucial, then, that Southwest ensure the flying public understands, point by point, what the company did to verify the safety of its planes, and why the approval of maintenance certificates happened in what appears to be an unusually fast fashion.

— Dallas Morning News