Donald Trump’s failure to create a nationwide COVID-19 plan

How the patchwork pandemic affects us over six months into quarantine

Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

Within the past few weeks, the United States has surpassed over 200,000 deaths from COVID-19. That is 200,000 innocent lives, who obtained a virus that could’ve been easily preventable. Other countries have been decreasing in the number of COVID-19 cases for months. Why is the United States an exception?

One of the answers is simple, really – President Trump. His lack of a quick response to the virus, repeatedly stating how he doesn’t believe in the effectiveness of masks, downplaying the effects of the virus and comparing it to a common cold or flu; the list goes on. However, one of his primary policies that have completely altered the spread of COVID-19 is his lack of a federal plan.

Although it may be a nationwide crisis, COVID-19 has individually affected every region, state, and city differently. While places such as Maine and Vermont have had relatively low numbers of cases, which continue to stay low, other areas such as Texas and Alabama have only increased in cases within the past few weeks. This is what many scientists describe as a “patchwork pandemic,” suggesting how the virus is specifically attacking different areas around the country, rather than the United States as a whole.

The creation of this patchwork pandemic was primarily due to the lack of a centralized plan to combat the virus. Rather than implementing national masks and social distancing mandates, states and cities were left to decide virus regulations on their own. This resulted in different reopening schedules around the country, drastically affecting the number of cases. In Georgia, for example, restaurants and other dining facilities were allowed to reopen as soon as April 27th. In Virginia, this didn’t occur until May 15th. In New York, which initially had a large spike in cases, this didn’t occur until June 22nd.

We didn’t have a consistent imposition of public health measures, and then we rushed to open up things like restaurants and bars

— Ezekiel Emanuel, former health adviser to the Obama administration

Due to this patchwork pandemic, the growth of the virus within specific areas is dependent on the investment of the people. While at the beginning of this pandemic most people recognized their shared purpose to follow the CDC guidelines, this sense of responsibility has gone down ever since then. Individuals are forced to decide what they are willing to sacrifice to further prevent the virus. While it may be physically beneficial to stay away from others, and not be able to see friends or family, it can be emotionally challenging as well. Wearing masks and social distancing can be inconvenient, and through the rapid growth of the virus, it has become less mandatory for many people.

Even once a vaccine is released to the general public, or the number of cases significantly decreases, life in the United States is never going to go back to normal.  No one knows exactly how this pandemic is going to play out, especially with the testing, manufacturing, and distribution of a potential vaccine. Scientists all around the country have mixed dates in which this could all be accomplished, and some are predicting that it could be as late as early 2022 before every person in the country is vaccinated. This will largely vary from state to state as well.

However, one thing is for certain – the fate of this virus solely depends on the engagement of the population. Unless a vaccine is created soon, the only true way in which to slow the spread of the virus is what everyone has heard a hundred times: wear masks in public, socially distance at least six feet apart from others, and wash your hands. Whether people listen to these recommendations or not will greatly impact the number of cases in their region. It is all up to an individual person whether they will follow these standards, and potentially save lives in the process.