Since the first confirmed COVID-19 case hit the United States, Americans have begun to do what they do best; sacrifice efficiency and unity in the name of politicizing whatever they can. There are extreme dangers in politicizing a pandemic because information becomes muddled and voices of professionals are silenced-- lives are at stake. Politicians, the media, and citizens on both sides of the political spectrum insist on inserting their personal beliefs and wants in the middle of this crisis, which is impacting how efficiently the government and medical professionals can work to protect Americans from this virus.
On April 24th, 2020 President Donald Trump signed a $484 billion coronavirus relief bill in order to rescue both the economy and health-care system that had suffered damage from the pandemic. This package passed by Congress brought total relief up to $3 trillion. This package allocated $75 billion in grants to hospitals dealing with floods of patients, $25 billion to bolster coronavirus testing, and $370 billion for small businesses. Although it seemed like Republicans and Democrats finally agreed on the relief package’s contents, the issue became politicized soon after the relief packages release. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) expressed his concerns over spending more federal money and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Trump had a back and forth over allocating money for the post office. During this, Pelosi made fun of Trump’s opposition to approving more money for the Postal Service and his inquiry about whether injecting disinfectants into the body could fight the coronavirus, stating: “No money for the Post Office. Instead inject Lysol into your lungs”. President Trump defended himself by saying that he was being sarcastic and trying to bring some light to the situation, tweeting:
“I will never let our Post Office fail. It has been mismanaged for years, especially since the advent of the internet and modern-day technology. The people that work there are great, and we’re going to keep them happy, healthy, and well!”
Stay-at-home measures, essential for efforts to slow COVID-19’s spread, have battered the US economy, leaving millions filing for unemployment benefits. The shutdown of businesses deemed non-essential have disrupted economic and social life, resulting in an economic downturn. There is a debate about the measures, however. Most believe that taking away those right now is too soon, as some states have not flattened the curve. Much research has gone into the dangers of COVID-19 and why people need to remain at home, safely social distancing. One reason is that an individual can have the virus without showing symptoms, and that person has the ability to infect 2-3 people each day. Economies are opening up again, yet there is still a huge divide among citizens in every city.
Polarization does not only exist between the right and left, though. In late April, health care workers became involved in protests. The woman shown in the cover photo was recorded in a video saying to an Asian nurse, “This is a free country. This is the land of the free. Go to China.” At a stoplight, the healthcare workers stopped in front of protestors in their cars. Protesters created signs concerning the anti-lockdown perspective. Anti-lockdown protests have sprung up across the country, fueled by alt-right groups.
This far into quarantine, we need to trust that our local mayors and governors are making the correct decisions while hopefully listening to or taking into account health care professions’ opinions. Taking these measures will help to prevent further politicization of COVID-19 and future health care issues.