Magazine News Opinions Volume 69, Issue 9

Where Did the US Go Wrong in Containing COVID-19?

Graphic by Lashall Richards

The worst thing the US did in response to COVID-19 was turning it into a partisan issue, and here’s how it happened:

When the first US case was reported on January 19, president Trump was quick to calm any panic the news may have caused. Just a few days later Reuters reported on an announcement Trump had made concerning the coronavirus, quoting Trump, “We do have a plan and we think it is going to be handled very well. We’ve already handled it very well. The CDC (Center for Disease Control) is terrific. Very professional…”

In response to Trump’s confidence that the coronavirus was an issue that would quickly be resolved, democrats in the government began alarming people of the dangers of coronavirus. Governor Cuomo of New York became one of the loudest voices on the issue when New York became the epicenter of the outbreak in the US. From then on the COVID-19 virus turned into a partisan issue. 

This was the United States gravest mistake, turning what should have been a bipartisan issue into an argument between republicans claiming that the democrats are alarmists, and that COVID-19 isn’t as big as it may seem, and democrats that are claiming that republican legislators have failed in attempting to contain the virus by trying to reopen business and public areas. 

Somehow one of the biggest political issues today is how dangerous the coronavirus is. This is a terrible mistake, because it puts even more lives in danger when people underestimate the threat of something. Imagine if suddenly people began arguing that driving isn’t very dangerous. Obviously driving is dangerous, but if somebody interprets the numbers in a way favorable to them, suddenly they will have people on their side of the argument. That is exactly what has happened with the coronavirus pandemic.

It is time to stop quarreling over a scientific fact. COVID-19 is life threatening, and the pandemic should be treated with great urgency. Trying to calm the public down about the virus, and then arguing with scientists and calling them “alarmists” was the greatest mistake made by the US government.