COVID-19: One Year Later

Looking back at where the United States went wrong when tackling the pandemic.

After a year of the COVID-19 pandemic, it finally seems as if there may be a light at the end of the tunnel. By May 1, all American adults should be eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, according to an early-March statement from President Joseph R. Biden. While the United States may now be able to start holding on to a shift and return towards normalcy in the somewhat near future, this doesn’t mean that our nation as a whole had a good response to this pandemic. Over one year has passed since the nation went into lockdown, and it’s easy to see that the country went wrong in a multitude of ways – and continues to do so currently. 

Arguably the worst thing about the United States’ response to the COVID19 pandemic was that there really wasn’t one that was universal across the nation. Even with a nationwide stay-at-home order and mask mandates, our country never seemed to have a well thought out and devised plan. Maybe if the US had devised a strict plan such as the one in New Zealand, our country would have been back or close to its normal state months ago. And when cases finally started to seemingly follow a downward trend, states were quick to open up, mask mandates became a topic of partisanship rather than public safety and Americans essentially forgot what it means to be unified as a nation.

As soon as there was a drop in cases, states began to open, all at different times and under different restrictions. Texas was one of the first states to open up, and they almost instantly saw another rise in cases and deaths related to COVID19. Right after reopening, Texas posted an 8.3% rise in hospitalizations to a record 2,518, according to the Texas state health department. Without many state government officials looking at the pandemic in a serious light, gatherings and travel continued and surges in cases were seen time and time again. 

courtesy of Pew Research Center

With 2020 also being an election year, to no one’s surprise mask mandates became extremely controversial in the media and between political parties. Instead of being talked about in the context of public safety and health, wearing masks sparked a conversation on the government infringing American rights. Approximately 49% of conservative Republicans were strictly following their states’ mask mandates, while that number was around 83% for liberal democrats, according to a June 2020 survey by Pew Research Center. Time and time again, this pandemic has proved that our nation lacks unity and can’t seem to put politics aside. 

All things considered, it’s not like the United States needed a perfect plan in response to COVID19 – no one asked for this. Creating a plan to tackle a global pandemic is by no means easy. But the United States didn’t need perfect, what the United States needed was unity and for the government and citizens to put their differences aside and work together towards a return to normalcy and nationwide health and safety. If the US does want to see a shift back to life before COVID-19 anytime soon, the country as a whole has to start working together and needs to put the wellbeing of the nation first.