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On Nov. 5, the United States broke a record for the highest amount of new coronavirus cases in a single day: 121,054. More than 230,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the U.S, and we are still months away from a widely-available vaccine. COVID-19 is not going away anytime soon. It is not a “Democratic hoax” and we do not get to decide the degree to which the virus has “dominated” people’s lives.
This should be considered an apolitical statement: President Donald Trump has not stepped up to lead the country toward physical health in the way that we needed him to. He failed us, Republicans and Democrats alike.
DO YOU REMEMBER?
March, April and May were anxiety-ridden, traumatizing months for our nation. With all that’s happened since then, it can be difficult to recall just how terrible it was. But in order to move forward, we have to look back and remember where we have been.
“Totally Under Control,” a documentary directed by Alex Gibney and filmed in secret over five months, takes viewers for a disturbing stroll down memory lane as it chronicles how the pandemic unfolded in the United States from the perspective of public health officials.
Both the United States and South Korea reported their first confirmed case of COVID-19 on the same day in January, but the two countries’ responses were vastly different. While South Korea took “proactive” steps to contact trace and find potential cases, the U.S. simply carried on with lackluster contact tracing.
Victoria Kim, a Seoul correspondent for the Los Angeles Times who was featured in the documentary, says that South Korea largely left their virus response to “the professionals,” not the politicians. The very opposite was true for us. Here, the White House tried desperately to downplay the severity of the virus. In January and February, most Americans went about their lives as normal. We danced along with Shakira and Jennifer Lopez at the Super Bowl, celebrated Black History Month, and New Orleans partied hard for Mardi Gras. During that last month, the virus was spreading throughout the nation but our leaders ignored it.
“Up until coronavirus, the way that Donald Trump was going to win reelection to a second term was largely going to be on the strength of the economy,” said Michael Shear, a White House Correspondent for The New York Times.
The economy was Trump’s prized possession, and now on his watch, the U.S. has sunk into another recession. Over the spring and summer months we saw a tenacious push from the Trump administration to reopen the country. We can conclude that his shortsighted advocacy for reopening meant he prioritized the economy over public health.
Instead of approaching the coronavirus with humility, he has undermined and contradicted public health experts, even those on his own task force. Just last week, the president suggested he would fire Dr. Anthony Fauci, the county’s top infectious disease expert.
Trump touts his travel ban on China as having “potentially saved millions of lives,” when in reality, that ban was too little too late. According to the Associated Press, that ban only restricted travel, still allowing travelers in from Hong Kong and Macao, plus over 27,000 Americans from mainland China.
His words hold weight beyond measure as one of the most powerful men in the world, and his rhetoric set us all up for failure by leading the nation astray. The president of the United States even purposefully deceived the American people about the severity of the virus in order to “not create a panic.” He has bred division when we needed unity the most.
Trump’s approach has hurt us tremendously, and something needs to change so we can move forward and eventually out of this pandemic. Regardless of who wins the election, we cannot continue down the path we are on. From our leaders we need honesty, sensitivity, organization and proactivity.
We can collectively do better as a nation too, and that starts with caring for one another and loving our neighbors through this season of dark nights.