Updated: Jul 13
America is fighting a pestilence on multiple fronts.
We are wrestling with a virulent pandemic that continues to wreak havoc in our communities. We are battling an idiocracy in which our science-denying family, friends and neighbors refuse to take the necessary precautions to protect themselves and those around them. And, finally, we are facing government ineptitude at the federal, state and local level that has exacerbated this public-heath crisis.
These three factors have created a perfect storm to ensure our society will continue to be disrupted for the foreseeable future.
It didn’t have to be this way. The United States accounts for 4.25 percent of the world’s population, but it has 25 percent of confirmed COVID-19 cases. The scale of this catastrophe is staggering. Not only are more than 135,000 Americans already dead, a number that is certain to climb much higher, but our way of life has been torn apart.
In Canada, Europe, Asia, Australia and particularly New Zealand, responsible leaders teamed with a unified public that was willing to work together. Now, the people in those parts of the world are beginning to get their lives back.
But not us.
Donald Trump launched his presidency by instituting a travel ban that prevented foreigners from several nations from getting into the United States. Now, because of this administration’s rank incompetence in dealing with the crisis, Americans are barred from leaving. It is a stunning turnabout for a society whose people have enjoyed the freedom to easily travel almost anywhere.
President Trump now wants to send our nation’s children back to school, where they would almost certainly spread the virus amongst each other, and then bring the deadly disease home to their parents and grandparents. It is a remarkably dumb idea, and there is little chance most parents will agree to it, no matter how much Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos threaten school-district funding.
Parents simply will not send their children to school if they don’t believe it is safe, and teachers will not step foot into the classroom either.
Donald Trump can say it’s safe, but he has no credibility. Trump has failed to listen to his experts, he has made one poor decision after another, and his negligence has put his citizens at risk. There is no doubt his rallies in Oklahoma, Arizona and South Dakota caused the virus to spread, but his inability and unwillingness to responsibly lead the nation through the pandemic has been far more problematic.
On Saturday, more than four months since the first death, Trump finally put a mask on in public. Instead of leading by example, he has politicized facial coverings, to the point where half the nation refuses to wear them.
Among those of us who believe in science and listen to infectious-diseases expert Dr. Anthony Fauci, there is nothing the president can do to regain our confidence. He has lost the public’s trust through his consistent mendacity, erratic behavior and poor decision-making. Because of Trump, frightened men and women must contend with conspiracy-believing, mask-less Americans in grocery stores and at gas stations.
The virus will eventually reach all corners of the country. It already has in Florida, Texas and Arizona, where hospitals are all overrun. The next three weeks will be among the most tragic in the history of those three states. In Mississippi, another state where a Republican-led government didn’t take the threat seriously, 26 lawmakers tested positive for the virus this week.
In late May, as Republicans across the country clamored to reopen the country, multiple medical experts took to the airwaves and predicted the same thing: Everything would seem fine for a few weeks, and then cases would explode.
Politicians, who thought they knew more than doctors and scientists, ignored them and catered to the extremist elements of our population. Add to that the likely effect from massive nationwide protests for racial justice after George Floyd’s murder, in which mask-wearing demonstrators were tear-gassed in several cities, and we are all now at the precipice of several terrifying weeks to come.
Our national day of reckoning has arrived.