A crowd in line at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Indonesia, May 2020
Antara Foto / Reuters

If the novel coronavirus pandemic were turned into a movie, a pivotal scene would capture the unforgettable events of Saturday, March 14, at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. Three days prior, U.S. President Donald Trump had suddenly announced sweeping travel restrictions on most European countries that would go into effect at midnight on Friday, March 13. Although the travel ban was intended to apply only to foreigners, Trump declared on national television that he was “suspending all travel from Europe to the United States,” prompting thousands of panicked Americans to cut short their vacations and business trips and rush back to the United States. Spilling into packed arrival halls, they found themselves shoulder-to-shoulder in nearly motionless customs and immigration lines, healthy travelers sharing the stale air with those who had picked up the virus, some of whom were sweating and coughing. Social media posts from O’Hare showed a seething

To read the full article

  • DOUG SAUNDERS is Richard von Weizsäcker Fellow at the Robert Bosch Academy in Berlin and the international affairs columnist for the Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail.
  • More By Doug Saunders