When COVID-19 first appeared in the United States, it discovered a nation with major veiled ailments and exploited them ruthlessly. It took the scale and destructiveness of a pandemic to expose their intensity — to shock Americans with the acknowledgment that we are in the high-risk classification.
Unlike countries like Pakistan or Belarus, the United States responded like a nation with substandard facilities and an inefficient federal government whose leaders were feeble-minded or too corrupt to head off mass suffering. From the president came the willful loss of sight, scapegoating, boasts, and blatant lies. Business executives and a couple of senators acted rapidly — not to avoid the coming catastrophe, instead, to benefit from it financially. As Winston Churchill famously said, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.”
Every day in the endless month of March 2020, Americans woke up to discover themselves as people of a broken state. With no nationwide strategy — no meaningful guidelines at all — workplaces, households, and schools were left to choose on their own whether to shut down or take shelter. Civilians took out their sewing machines to keep ill-equipped medical facility employees healthy and their patients alive.
Donald Trump saw the crisis nearly completely in political and individual terms. Fearing for his reelection, he stated the coronavirus pandemic a war and himself a wartime president.
On September 11, 2001, Americans were still living psychologically in the previous century, and the memory of anxiety, world war, and cold war stayed strong. On that day, individuals in rural middle America did not see New York as a melting pot of immigrants and liberals that deserved its fate; However, it was a fantastic American city that had taken a hit for the entire nation.
Terrible policies and partisan politics, specifically the Iraq War, eliminated the sense of nationwide unity and fed a bitterness towards the political class that never truly faded. The second crisis of a financial nature, in 2008, magnified it.
The prolonged distress due to financial collapse was felt in the middle and the lower class Americans who had numerous financial obligations but lost employment, houses, and retirement savings. Many of them never recuperated, and youths who matured in the Great Recession were destined to be poorer than their parents. Inequality grew substantially worse.
This second crisis drove an extensive wedge between Americans: the lower and upper classes, Republicans and Democrats, urban and rural individuals, the native-born and immigrants, ordinary Americans, and their leaders. The long healing over the previous years enriched corporations and financiers and left the working class further behind.
Trump came to power as the savior of the Republican party. Republican political leaders and donors who desired the federal government to do as little as possible for the common good might live gladly with a program that hardly understood how to govern at all, and they made themselves Trump’s henchmen.
Like tossing a lit match in a dry field, Trump started to obliterate what was left of nationwide civic life and ethics. He never even pretended to be the president of the entire nation and split us against one another along the lines of race, sex, religious beliefs, citizenship, education, and political affiliation every day of his presidency.
Trump further exploited the federal government, paralyzed by years of conservative ideological attack, politicization, and consistent defunding. He drove out some of the most knowledgeable and skilled professional authorities, left important positions unfilled, and set up patriots as commissars over the cowed survivors, with one function: to serve his interests. His significant legal achievement, one of the biggest tax cuts in history, sent out hundreds of billions of dollars to large corporations.
Such was the American landscape that lay open to the contagion: in flourishing cities, a class of internationally linked office workers based on a class of unnoticeable and precarious service employees; in the countryside, decomposing neighborhoods in revolt versus the modern-day world; on social networks, shared hatred and unlimited vituperation amongst various camps; in the economy, even with full-time work, a significant and growing wealth inequality between wealthy and the labor force; in Washington, an empty federal government led by a bilker and his intellectually insolvent party; around the nation, a state of mind of negative fatigue, without any vision of a shared identity or future.
The infection ought to have unified Americans against a common enemy. However, the one device required to discover who has the disease was far more scarce than we would have imagined. As I experienced first hand, there was a significant shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in the hospitals, and we were forced to re-use equipment, which is not a recommended practice. Specific criteria were created regarding who would qualify for the Coronavirus test, and even then, the accuracy of these tests was suspicious. Healthcare frontline workers, doctors, nurses, and Emergency Medical Personnel were never tested and, strangely enough, are still not being tested. I have been tested once during this whole pandemic via the saliva test. Why not PCR? Simple, the healthcare company needed to save some money. Shortly after being tested, this test was rendered inadequate, and the results were nullified. Testing was a massive undertaking by this organization, and sadly, they opted for the cheaper option without giving any attention to the accuracy of the test. These tests are the only way to obtain data about population health and utilize that to make policies regarding the pandemic response. However, that is an optimistic and not a stupid idea, in contrast to what happened.
Celebrities and rich folks were coming out by the masses, reporting how they tested positive or negative for COVID-19. The government/CDC strictly controlled testing kits. How did the rich and celebrities make it to the top of the list? It is not very difficult to understand; there is systemic corruption that allows this to take place. A popular joke proposed that the only method to discover whether you had the infection was to sneeze on an affluent individual or celebrity’s face. During the initial weeks of the pandemic, it triggered outrage, as if, throughout primary mobilization, the rich had been permitted to purchase their plan of military-grade gas masks or respirators. In comparison, the rest of us were paying a pretty penny for surgical masks, N-95, and, oh yes, toilet paper.
The purest personification of political nihilism is not Trump himself but his son-in-law and senior advisor, Jared Kushner. Dad aided him with $10 million in loans to start his property company. Jared Kushner continued his elite education at the law and organization schools of NYU, where his dad had contributed $3 million. Jared repaid his dad’s assistance with strong commitment when Charles Kushner was sentenced to 2 years in a federal jail in 2005 for attempting to resolve a property legal dispute by alluring his sister’s spouse with a prostitute and videotaping the encounter.
Jared Kushner would soon discover that his actions do not have any consequences, and there is always somebody to save him, and his confidence just grew exponentially. Under his coach Rupert Murdoch, he discovered methods to fuse his monetary, political, and journalistic pursuits.
When his father-in-law ended up being the president, Kushner rapidly came into power in an administration that propagated corruption, amateurism and introduced nepotism as a governing concept. As long as he absorbed himself with Middle East peace, his feckless meddling didn’t matter to a lot of Americans. Because of his incompetence, he became a prominent advisor to Trump on the coronavirus pandemic. The outcome of this decision has been a colossal policy failure leading to hundreds of thousands of deaths. Unfortunately, we are still experiencing the fruits of this Harvard grad’s labor.
“The federal government is not developed to fix all our issues,” he stated, discussing how he would tap his business connections to develop drive-through screening sites. Business leaders persuaded him that Trump needs not utilize governmental authority to force markets to produce ventilators, masks or invoke the Defense Production Act. Being the mouthpiece of the self-serving business community, he convinced Trump, which ultimately led to the massive rise in mortality due to Covid-19.
It turns out that clinical professionals and other civil servants are not traitorous members of a “deep state” — they’re vital employees, and marginalizing them in favor of sycophants and ideologues is a danger to the country’s health. It turns out that years of assaulting the federal government, squeezing it dry, and draining its spirits, results in a massive cost that the public has to pay with their lives.
The battle to conquer the pandemic also needs to be a battle to recuperate our nation’s health and reconstruct it, or the challenges and sorrows we are enduring will never be redeemed. If 9/11 and 2008 made us lose trust in the old political system, 2021 needs to eliminate the concept that anti-politics is our redemption.
Or we can utilize this time out in our typical lives to pay attention to the healthcare employees holding up mobile phones so their patients on their death bed can say farewell to loved ones; the planeload of medical employees flying from Atlanta to assist in New York; the aerospace employees in Massachusetts requiring that their factory be transformed to ventilator production; the Floridians standing in long lines since they could not get through by phone to the joblessness workplace; the locals of Milwaukee braving limitless waits, hail, and contagion to vote in an election required on them by partisan justices. Once we’ve come out of hiding and taken off our masks, we must not forget what it was like to be alone.
We’re still losing around more then 1000 Americans per day — that is, we’re experiencing the equivalent of ten 9/11s every month. Many people who aren’t eliminated by Covid-19 are nevertheless disabled by the disease, in some cases completely.
Why are we doing so poorly? A great deal of the response is that numerous state federal governments have hurried to go back to business as usual despite only a handful of states satisfy federal requirements for even the preliminary stage of resuming business. Epidemiologists cautioned that early resuming would lead to a brand-new wave of infections — and they were right.
In America, and just in America, fundamental health safety measures have been caught in a culture war. Scientific skepticism, refusal of face mask in the name of ‘freedom’, threatening other individuals for doing the right thing, has become a political slogan. As a result, social distancing has become partisan: self-identified Republicans do less of it than self-identified Democrats. All of us saw how this played out in Tulsa, where a big (if smaller sized than anticipated) crowd collected, mainly without masks, in an indoor setting custom-made to spread out the coronavirus. These super-spreader events have largely been the catalyst for where we stand today. July 4th, 2021 celebrations throughout the country led to a mass spreading of the virus and we are still dealing with the aftermath. Our hospitals are at capacity, there are no ICU beds available, resources are scares, healthcare workers are fatigued and leaving the profession in masses.
“According to recent studies, between 20% and 30% of frontline U.S. health-care workers say they are now considering leaving the profession. Notably, one April 2021 study by health care jobs marketplace Vivian found that four in 10 (43%) nurses are considering leaving their role in 2021 — a figure that is higher among ICU workers (48%).” (Gilchrist CNBC, 2021)
The moral of this story is that America’s distinctively lousy response to the coronavirus isn’t merely the outcome of bad management at the top — although thousands of lives would have been preserved if we had a president who would handle issues instead of attempting to want them away by spreading conspiracy theories, lies, hate speech and pure racism.
We are doing poorly because, as with the pellagra response, there’s a longstanding anti-science, anti-expertise streak in American culture — the same streak that makes us distinctively reluctant to accept the truth of advancement or acknowledge the danger of climate change.
We are not a country of know-nothings; most Americans want to listen to specialists and act appropriately. There’s a contentious faction within our society that declines to acknowledge unpleasant or bothersome truths, choosing to think that professionals are in some way conspiring against them. America’s anti-rational streak; and this rejection of competence, science, obligation, in general, is destroying us as a nation. We are dealing with a crisis that will only pass if the country can unite and work together towards getting everyone vaccinated against Covid-19.