The COVID-19 Pandemic Highlights the Widening Divide in the US

The world will not be magically fixed on January 1, 2021

While it is SO good to have a light at the end of the tunnel with the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, it is crucial we all realize that everything won’t change just because 2020 ends.

We all know 2020 has been a dumpster fire shitshow of a year. Despite any and all good news that came through this year, there has also been devastation.

Shootings, explosions, a divisive and exhausting election, and — of course, the global pandemic.

As we look forward to getting vaccinated and resuming normal life, it’s important that we know just how much our government has failed us this year.

The US Did (& is Doing) a Horrible Job with COVID-19

Starting at the top, the leadership in the US downplayed the severity of COVID-19, sowed seeds of discontent, and the actual president of our nation told people it was no big deal and pushed back against COVID restrictions and lockdowns.

Whether you agree with me or not, the results speak for themselves.

As reported by NPR: “A new report in the Journal of the American Medical Association finds that in the past five months, per capita deaths in the U.S., both from COVID-19 and other causes, have been far greater than in 18 other high-income countries.”

You can find the study here.

“The United States really has done remarkably badly compared to other countries. I mean, remarkably badly,” says Dr. Ezekiel J. Emanuel, an author in the study and health policy and medical ethics professor at the University of Pennsylvania.

Researchers from Harvard and UPENN studied deaths in the US against the other 18 higher-income countries and found “that COVID-19 deaths and excess deaths from any cause in the United States likely were due to a poor pandemic response rather than an early surge of coronavirus cases before virus prevention and treatment methods were improved,” according to CIDRAP.

CIDRAP goes on to report: “In another editorial in the same journal, JAMA Editor-in-Chief Howard Bauchner, MD, and Executive Editor Phil Fontanarosa, MD, MBA, said that the second study results suggest that more than 400,000 excess deaths will have occurred by the end of 2020, the importance of which ‘cannot be overstated, because it accounts for what could be declines in some causes of death, like motor vehicle crashes, but increases in others, like myocardial infarction.’”

Not Taking It Seriously

As other countries have proven, if everyone were to wear masks and stay home for a few weeks, the virus would be greatly curbed.

As Drew Altman of BMJ states, “On 9 August, the US passed the five million mark in cases of covid-19, representing slightly more than a quarter of all global cases. That day, more than half the states in the US qualified as coronavirus hot spots.”

Instead of a truly bipartisan response to an uncaring-of-politics disease, state and national government leaders chose to ignore public health and safety to instead turn the COVID response into a political issue. Trump loyalists pushed for lighter restrictions and sooner reopening.

As we saw in Florida and Texas, this was a terrible idea and a second wave surged before the first had really ended.

BMJ says that two specific policy decisions led to the horrifying response to COVID in the US.

The first was when Trump decided that states would have primary responsibility instead of the federal government. This led to each state having different rules and regulations — along partisan lines.

The second was when Trump and his administration pushed hard for reopening before the virus was ever contained.

Of course, Trump sowing distrust in the CDC and Dr. Anthony Fauci certainly aided in the ignoring of restrictions, mask-wearing, and other safety precautions. Along with his disbanding of the emergency pandemic response team.

Altman concludes his essay with: “The US coronavirus failure was not inevitable and does not have to be permanent. But it is historically aberrant for our federal government to follow and not lead in a national crisis, and equally unusual for our country to divide rather than unify in a time of crisis. This too is the product of the policy decisions that have been made and can be altered or unmade by the current or a future administration.”

What now?

Unlike previous times of national and even localized crises, such as the California wildfires and 9/11, this global pandemic and the last 4 years in American politics have pushed people further apart than ever.

The right has become more extreme, while the left has been branded as “sheeple” for wanting a better life and socialist policies like affordable housing, healthcare, and education.

In a time when we could have come together as a country to demand safety and better responses, relationships have been torn apart. There are those who claim it’s all a hoax despite overwhelming evidence — and how do you argue logic with the so deeply illogical?

As we move forward into 2021 and hopefully see a more normal life resume, the effects of 2020 and the global pandemic will continue to be felt.

A new year and a new president will not magically fix the dumpster fire that 2020 emerged as.

It is up to us, the people of the United States of America, to actually become united and stand together as a nation. Not be torn apart by leaders who put themselves and their interests above all else.

Take, for example, Senator Marco Rubio. On Sunday, December 27, Rubio tweeted that Dr. Fauci “lied” about masks and has “been distorting” the level of vaccinations needed for the U.S. to safely reopen its economy.

AFTER BEING ONE OF THE FIRST AMERICANS TO RECEIVE THE VACCINE. Before many frontline workers!

Rubio was dragged across the internet for this tweet, with journalist Jemele Hill tweeting a response of “This you getting the vaccine?” along with a photo of Rubio receiving one WHILE WEARING A MASK on December 19th. Rubio has been criticized by many for his statements both now and throughout the pandemic with his anti-science rhetoric.

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https://twitter.com/jemelehill

Professor Peter Hotez, epidemiologist and dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, said “some Republican lawmakers’ anti-science approach to the pandemic has been ‘both bizarre and self-defeating.’” As reported by People.

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