LETTER: What pushed us to this part of the pandemic

146

Editor: I am always amazed what ‘becomes political’ in our country, such as having clean air and water. Currently, managing and living with a pandemic has been politicized.

Sometimes it takes the observation of an ‘outsider’ to help understand why things are the way they are and how people are reacting to the situation around them.

I believe that the article, COVID-19 Cases Are Surging in America. What I Saw There. Helps Explains Why, by Michael Rowland.

(I should note that this article is intended for an Australian audience, since this was published on ABC.net.au.)

I do hope that some people can be ‘inspired’ to set politics and ideologies aside, and begin to see that we can improve our situation by taking personal responsibility while keeping others in mind when we decide to act according to those personal responsibilities.

I would like to highlight, what I think, are the two major points Mr. Rowland made in his article:

America never really took it seriously

For all the challenges we have faced trying to contain the virus, Australia has never come close to this level of impending national disaster.

If we were on the same trajectory as America, more than 100 Australians would be dying every day of the virus.

We are in a very different place because we took the virus seriously very early on.

It is something America has never really done and, even in the face of this mounting threat, is still not.

From the start, Donald Trump was dismissive of the virus, repeatedly declaring it would disappear “like a miracle”.

When masks became political

It is truly diabolical that, for many Americans, choosing whether or not to wear a mask has become a political statement, and nothing to do with virus prevention.

Calls by top doctors to make masks compulsory are dismissed as an outrageous assault on personal liberty.

In heavily Democratic Washington DC, where mask-wearing is pretty much universal, the biggest threat comes from pandemic fatigue.

People are, understandably, over the virus and want to start living again. There is a similar sentiment in many other parts of America.

During my stay in DC, I often walked past outdoor restaurants with way-too-closely-packed diners; masks seemingly dispatched for the duration of the evening.

It was unseasonably warm and perhaps people just wanted to forget about the virus for a night.

As we know, the virus never rests.

— Andrew Jerrett, [email protected]