The Critical Mistake in America's Critical Condition
The United States of America, reputable for its tremendous power and influence globally has faced a brutal wave of panic with the COVID-19 pandemic alongside many other powerhouses around the world. However, a trait differentiates the trends of spread on the lands of America: ignorance. A combination of a misguided administration, arrogant citizens, and overwhelmed health services has led to the present-day panic and nationwide lockdown.
On January 21, 2020, America documented its first confirmed case of a newly emerging novel coronavirus. Days later, WHO declared a global health emergency, with countries universally imposing strict travel procedures and lockdowns. In the coming weeks, COVID-19 crept from person to person in America, slowly growing in number, but not in concern (Schumaker, 2020). Media coverage was ample, yet most people disregarded the concerning disease simply due to disbelief: in fact, the last pandemic on the scale of COVID-19 was the influenza outbreak in 1918. As Cathy Cassata stated in an interview with Psychology Today, “It’s hard for us to imagine that a 'flu-like' illness could be so destructive.”
Along with the optimism bias present in the community, President Donald Trump and his administration have failed to provide adequate procedures to correctly and effectively contain the pandemic. From insufficient testing to a lack of coordination, Trump’s COVID-19 response has been a disaster from the start.
The feeble success in the struggle against COVID-19 in America originated in April 2018 when the Trump Administration, with the newly appointed head of White House National Security Council John Bolton, began dismantling the team in charge of the pandemic response, firing its leadership and disbanding the team. Coupled with the repeated calls to cut the budget for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other public health agencies, this decision weakened the protection and ability of the federal government to respond to disease outbreaks (Lopez, 2020). As a result, the administration has been playing catch-up with this pandemic. A high uninsurance rate, high out-of-pocket healthcare costs, and a low medical system capacity stemmed directly from actions taken by the administration, causing the U.S. health system to be unprepared when the virus hit shores (Scott & Molla, 2020).
The ignorance of the U.S. President also contributed to the botched response to the pandemic. On the positive, he declared a national emergency, advised Americans to social distance, vowed to widespread testing, increased medical equipment for health care workers, and promised economic relief to those affected by the crisis (Scott & Molla, 2020). Nonetheless, Trump continues to be uneducated on the virus itself, appearing on media with fatally misinformed accusations and assumptions of the virus and its seriousness. The incompetence of the administration led by his guidance reveals a massive miscalculation of the severity of the pandemic, starting with the lack of testing in the first few weeks of the pandemic entering the U.S.
America started off testing for coronavirus at a slower rate than other developed countries, but the number of cases has risen at unparalleled speed. South Korea, widely praised for its success in containing the coronavirus, announced its first case on the same day as the U.S. As a comparison, South Korea has now effectively diminished the impact of the pandemic, one of only two countries to flatten the curve of new infections (Fischer & Sang-Hun, 2020).
South Korea was able to test over 65,000 people within a week of its first case of community transmission. On the contrary, it took America roughly three weeks to reach that same number, despite the extraordinarily high demand (Mayer & Madrigal, 2020).
Along with the slow start of testing in the U.S, instead of tackling the problem head-on, Trump has made inaccurate statements on the severity of the virus. He has tweeted comparisons of COVID-19 to the common flu, calling the virus a “hoax” as well. He said on national television that, based on nothing more than a self-admitted “hunch,” the death rate of the disease is much lower than public health officials projected (Rupar, 2020). He even went as far as to push the blame of the testing setbacks on others, stating “I don’t take responsibility at all” in early March (Millhiser, 2020). Even as the administration ramps up its efforts, Trump continues to downplay the severity of the pandemic with false assumptions.
Trump’s statements and accusations derive simply from politics. Purposely calling the coronavirus the “China Virus” and dismissing concerns is all a political strategy (Somvichian-Clausen, 2020). To him, maintaining the economical standpoint of the United States is more valuable than the health and condition of the citizens of the country itself. Pushing for the mass reopening of the country in order to prevent an economic recession is futile, as the effects on the economy are already drastic and irreversible. Instead, the administration should be focusing on the health and safety of the people in the nation and properly eradicating COVID-19 from shore to shore. Until that point of reassurance has been reached, a reopening of the country could be a fatal mistake (Burke, 2020).
The Trump administration has failed to properly secure the appropriate measures to ensure that COVID-19 would not run wild through the nation. As a result, all we can do is remain at home, practicing social distancing and patiently waiting for the elimination of the virus, for the sake of those at risk of serious implications. Without the proper reinforcements in place, it is up to us to protect our own country by limiting the virus's spread. Those who do not adhere to the revised guidelines are contributing to the increasingly dire and stressful situation of the nation’s economic and social state. If we can unite as a nation and stay strong, we can stop this pandemic from taking more lives of those that whom are loved and valued. If preventing the spread of the pandemic was Trump’s top priority, he could end policies that are worsening the crisis. But it's bad news for the people of America: he’s not.
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Cassata, C (2020, March 26.) Why Aren't Some People Taking COVID-19 More Seriously? Retrieved 24 April 2020, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/psych-unseen/202003/why-arent-some-people-taking-covid-19-more-seriously
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