There is no evidence that the travel ban on our European allies will slow the coronavirus in the United States. We are already seeded. This travel ban affronts our allies, who were apparently not consulted, and diverts resources from the battlefield — our neighborhoods.

Disruptions of activities need to be based in science. Unfortunately, due to a federal flub on testing, our understanding of how widespread the coronavirus is in our communities is imperfect. With testing, we are now learning exactly what our mitigation actions need to be.

Science tells us that the most effective way of limiting global spread is to prevent travelers from leaving infected zones. We learned this most clearly with Hong Kong’s “no fly” list success during SARS. Travel bans are not historically effective unless they are enacted at the source. A full analysis of the early ban on travel from China has not yet been done, but it is important to note that coincident with that ban was a full lockdown by Chinese authorities of Hubei province.

Using our investigative tools, we can hone protective strategies, save lives and assure recovery of our society. When we recover, we will find international trust in America compromised.

Ann Marie Kimball, M.D., MPH, Bainbridge Island, professor emerita, University of Washington