We are currently in uncharted territory. Just over a month ago, it would have been hard to believe that we would have been spending the last two months of the school year in our houses while most businesses are shut down and we are urged by the CDC to avoid people in general. What we need most through this crisis is a government that is willing and able to move quickly and decisively for the greater good of its nation.
Despite pleas from scientists and health experts, our government has failed to achieve this.
The coronavirus has been in the US since January. Nothing was done upon this discovery. This was against the warnings of researchers, scientists, and health experts who had noted the disastrous spread of the virus in countries like Italy and China that had also failed to initially take action. So, the virus was allowed to run rampant through hospitals and was brought home by discharged patients who would unwittingly spread the disease farther.
During these months of inaction, both state and federal governments downplayed the severity of the outbreak in an effort to keep the economy and their political standings strong. President Trump was at the forefront of this approach, calling the criticisms leveled at his administration over its handling of the issue a Democratic hoax. This kind of rhetoric had a serious effect on national opinion of the outbreak, leading many (if not most) Americans to believe that it was simply not a big deal. In addition, he has called the disease “China Virus”, implying that it is the fault of every ordinary Chinese citizen that the outbreak started in their country. This is an obvious attempt to divert frustrations to the Chinese, and can easily be seen as scapegoating.
The response to the virus after it became known as a threat has been extremely lacking and depressingly politicized. Politicians can pick and choose which businesses are considered essential. For example: In some states, churches are considered essential due to the religious beliefs of their politicians, despite the fact that churches are some of the most dangerous places to keep open because of their density and the older demographics of most churches. This should not be a matter of religious belief (or, just as likely, political posturing). This is a matter of public health and safety.
The government has also failed to provide ample resources to hospitals, putting the health of doctors at risk when they are most needed. In Michigan alone, over 2,200 medical workers have tested positive for the disease and are, of course, being forced to stay home. Not only are those professionals adding to the spread and severity of the disease, their absence is making the management of this outbreak even more difficult.
In addition to all of these administrative shortcomings, the CDC has failed to properly instruct the public on what they can do to manage the virus. They have been providing contradictory and ever-changing directives, such as their swing from the stance that public should not wear masks to the stance that everyone should, in fact, wear masks.
When asked what he thought of the government’s response to coronavirus, Levi Johnson said:
“It is all about the money. Politicians cannot do anything without lobbyist money, and lobbyists are sent by corporations who care much more about money than they care about public health.”
This argument certainly has merit, as any stocks directly affected by the outbreak entered into slides before the virus was even a chief concern for most Americans, and the market crashed when the restrictions really started kicking in. Some politicians were even surprisingly open about their concern for the economy above human life, such as Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, who, in a morbid implication that it is the duty of senior citizens to die for the cause of keeping the economy strong, famously asked to Fox News viewers:
“As a senior citizen, are you willing to take a chance on your survival in exchange for keeping the America that all America loves for your children and grandchildren?”
Caden Rule also agreed that the response has been far from optimal.
“I think nobody knew that it would get this bad at first, but I still do not think the government has handled it very well,” Rule said. “I remember that people were being held up in huge lines with tons of people at airports because they were afriad someone had the coronavirus, even though they were more likely to get it in that line than anywhere else.”
This is also true. These lines came after action was finally taken on the virus and “social distancing” had gone into effect, but travelers were forced to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with thousands of people for several hours so that they could be screened for COVID-19. Of course, these lines probably only worsened the issue (although there is no direct evidence to support that theory, it is clear that crowds are a bad idea since they are illegal in most countries right now).
Opinions on this administration are heated and contentious, but its points of contention in the past have become irrelevant in light of this outbreak. It can be plainly seen by all that the indecisiveness of the government in the early months of the year allowed the coronavirus to become widespread in the United States. Even now that the virus is being taken seriously, the government’s responses are consistently lackluster. They have failed to take the measures necessary to protect public health. Thousands have died, and thousands more will die.