This unprecedented Coronavirus pandemic has caused the world to abandon life as they know it and adapt to new norms. Physical distancing, which prohibits hanging out in groups, has become the new normal worldwide as nations battle this invisible enemy that has already claimed over 161,000 lives. During this time of uncertainty, many experts are guiding the public on how to flatten the curve, all offering their own guidelines. While a unified response would most effectively guide Americans on how they can stay safe and keep others safe, there have been inconsistent recommendations. Some politicians are urging the nation to re-open as soon as possible with hopes of preventing the economy from being severely damaged. Most health experts are urging the nation to stay closed for longer and support stricter government regulations on physical distancing. The federal government is assuring Americans that the nation is well equipped to halt the spread of the virus while state governors are expressing the opposite. Since the start of the outbreak, these differing views on how to best handle the Coronavirus outbreak has led to political partisanship and has been confusing to Americans.
On January 5, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported a “pneumonia of unknown cause” in Wuhan China. Four days later, the discovery of a novel coronavirus was announced. At the early stages of the outbreak, it was unclear how much of a threat this novel virus was to the rest of the world. People in the United States continued on with their days and the fear of this virus was almost non-existent. Fast forward to late February. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) announced that it is not a question of if but when the Coronavirus will spread in the United States. Despite this alarming warning, President Trump assured the American people that the Coronavirus is under control in the United States and the threat is much less.
In the next couple of weeks, into early March, the CDC continued to warn of possible danger that the international community could be in. Yet, the Trump administration repeatedly reassured Americans that it was handled. President Trump, along with many other politicians, downplayed the severity of the situation for months. President Trump cannot justly be blamed for not knowing the exact protocol for a pandemic, but his disregard for the advice medical professionals were giving could have potentially exacerbated the spread and definitely led to confusion. Was the situation handled? Did states have the personal protection equipment and tests that the federal government said they did? Would the virus be gone as summer approaches? These were all questions that the people were receiving inconsistent answers to.
The Trump administration is reporting that states have the testing capacity to begin re-opening. President Trump says that he has not heard that testing is a problem. He continues to boast about how the United States has done the most testing despite the United States still trailing on a per capita basis. The Trump administration dismisses any questions of the insufficient tests and therefore is urging several states to begin re-opening. However, many governors are saying that their state does not have the testing capacity to test all showing symptoms, nevermind enough to begin re-opening. An overwhelming amount of public health experts are saying that the United States has not yet reached the necessary testing capacity to begin opening up the nation. Many governors are echoing these statements, reporting testing shortages in their states.
Ned Lamont, Connecticut governor, called into northeast Connecticut’s local radio station WINY. During this call, Lamant explains how testing would allow the state to begin getting people back to work but there is not the testing capacity to do so. The Democratic governor told the listeners that tests can only be used for those with symptoms but Connecticut can not yet do widespread testing. Other governors are also expressing similar concerns. Virginia governor, Ralph Northam, is also saying his state has a shortage of testing even calling President Trump’s statements addressing testing are “delusional.” Larry Hogan, the governor of Maryland, says that President Trump statements claiming that the nation has enough testing to re-open are “absolutely false.” If the federal government is reporting one thing while state governors are reporting the opposite, how are Americans supposed to know if the nation does have the testing capacity to re-open? Medical experts continue to warn politicians of the devastating effects that re-opening the nation could have.
Expectations regarding how and when the re-opening of the nation can be expected varies. Late March, President Trump tweets that he would love to pack the churches on Easter Sunday. He is saying this despite the warnings from public health experts who warn that the worst effects of the Coronavirus were still weeks away and that prematurely lifting restrictions now in place would result in unnecessary deaths. Now, a week after Easter, most of the nation is still fighting an uphill battle against the deadly virus. Looking ahead, it is unclear when states will re-open. Since the Trump administration has decided to let each individual state decide when they should begin to open, there have been various approaches. Greg Abbott, governor of Texas, has announced that it will begin to open up very soon. States such as Connecticut and New York are expecting to continue with restrictions in place and possibly even enforce more. Inconsistent timelines for re-opening are emerging.
When the experts the American people look to are scattered and disorganized, it can be expected that the general population will be the same. It is important for politicians to follow the recommendations of medical experts if they want to see the curve flattened, their constituents healthy, and businesses re-opened.