Since the spread of the novel coronavirus throughout the globe, almost all countries are facing a health crisis at a level where they can hardly cope with it. The global pandemic occurring at this moment has shown how poorly prepared most of the world was to face such circumstances. To say that the United States is an example of this would be an understatement, as the health crisis in America has put them as the global epicenter of the pandemic. Since the first case of the virus to reach the US in January, other 795,000 people have gotten the virus. Out of this amount of people, 72,000 have recovered,42,000 have died and all aspects of normal day to day life have changed in the country. In a situation like the one happening in America, the biggest enemy and threat to the well-being of the whole county is ignorance among the population and lack of opportune communication by the government. Having this in mind, the ability of politicians of all levels to be accessible to their community and their capability of being in constant communication with the country’s citizens is key to fight the health crisis. Also, a strong democratic system is needed to have the channels for politicians to reach the people. Reviewing the timeline of events, it can be said that if the US had emphasized these principles since the beginning, it might not be in the position it currently lies in.
An example of this is the efforts by the U.S. Representative for Massachusetts’s 4th congressional district, Joe Kennedy. Representative Kennedy has been hosting town hall meetings to address the people of his community through the video conference application Zoom. The meeting addresses important concerns from the people, updates on new implementations and the overall condition of the community. The fact that at the end of the meeting, participants could ask questions related to the crisis was essential. While the crisis was beginning to show its true effects, I found that many of my friends or the people related within my daily life often found themselves unsure of the procedures to follow or simply how to address the situation themselves. That is why having these meetings where any person can reach a House of Representatives member and ask a question, as well as hearing official information is very important.
In the town hall meeting, Joe Kennedy was accompanied by City Councilor of Everett, Gerly Adrien and by Doctor Karen Freund. The three discussed various topics involving the effects of the virus in different sectors of the state of Massachusetts. Through City Councilor Adrien, information about how minorities are being identified as the most vulnerable population to the consequences of the virus in economic and health aspects and the reasons why was said. Joe Kennedy gave updates on the effects of government implementations such as the 2 trillion stimulus packet and how he had the initiative to have a larger stimulus check to the civilian population because, in his opinion, “1200 dollars is not enough”. Also, health information and updates on medical availability in the state were talked about in length by both doctor Freund and Rep. Kennedy. The doctor gave recommendations to people if they might have to deal with the situation of having the virus and the process they should follow to stay safe and recover. Testing and PPE which are one of the main issues due to their scarcity was also discussed in the meeting. Information raging from the effort of the US to have more effective and faster testing resources, to the procedure one must follow to get results faster, and which testing method we should emulate was shared in the space of one hour. At the end of the meeting, people were allowed to ask questions to the hosts, where questions regarding new restrictions and the concern of students to pay their loans where answered. As can be noted, all of this information is useful and not concentrated on one demographic group of the community, but they try to address all social groups. People having accurate information will help the dust settle and help the county move forward with the necessary step it has to make. To battle a health crisis with a misinformed and ignorant population is a lost cause, and this initiative of communication and political accessibility via online resources will avoid that from happening.
In a time where there is a massive spread of fake news or information reported out of context, the ability of a government to be reachable to clear doubts and give factual information is priceless. This allows for less organizational chaos and allows accountability of the efforts done by the government. If the information is out there it is our responsibility to reach it and act according to it. For example, the US government where reluctant to the information they were receiving, and the crisis was downplayed by the President in his addresses to the nation. This had a massive effect on how the virus was seen by the general population since the President did not believe the extent of the consequences of the virus could reach. It can be all but confirmed that the US would be in a better position if his administration had taken the virus seriously since the beginning and giving that information to the public. Having a factual and honest official communication would have prepared the population ahead of the peak of the crisis, instead of alerting citizens while the peak was occurring. The only fault with this key strategy is that it requires a certain level of political participation from the citizen’s part to yield the best results. This also goes with the idea of making this type of initiative to have virtual town hall meetings more out in the open. I would never know that this was an option if it weren’t for my government class I am taking. Publicizing these events to let people know they can clear their doubts directly from a member of the House would increase participation and therefore awareness of the virus and the actions one should take.
It is evidently clear how political accessibility and communication can help turn around the crisis the US faces today. Having people constantly updated on new information regarding the range of topics that might affect a daily human life will avoid more imprudence from the people so that the spread of the virus can come to a halt. It must be a priority to make people know the existence of these resources because it will help exponentially if more people are in sync with what is currently happening in their communities. This health crisis must be fought with a well-informed population who realize the situation we all face, so they can make the compromises they need to protect their well-being, as well as the whole country.