President Trump struck a notably different tone in his address yesterday. Preparing the nation for difficult weeks ahead, he stressed the need to unify in the face of a growing public health crisis.
Following calls for more concrete, specific guidelines by the federal government, the president also released a document intended to help slow the spread over these next two crucial weeks.
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He shocked many by stating that the outbreak would continue to haunt the country until “August, could be July.” He also granted that a recession is likely to occur in 2020. Though the stock market reacted by tumbling, Americans should take heart that the president grasps the gravity of the situation and the fact that this is no passing bug, but a major threat to US welfare which much be responded to as such.
A Necessary Change in Tone
Used to a more jocular and braggadocious president, Americans saw a different side yesterday. Fitting the moment, the president stressed a realist view of what the country will face, and above all, called for unity.
As reflected by the stock market crashing and panic buying across the country, many Americans are fearful of what lies ahead for the nation. However, by truly grasping the seriousness of COVID-19 outbreak, we as a country can appropriately respond.
We do not live in a dictatorship, and that means the government cannot impose the draconian measures seen in China to contain the outbreak, such as locking an entire city of people in their homes. The vast majority of Americans prefer this reality, and are willing lose a bit of security for a great deal of freedom. However, that leaves it to Americans to shoulder the burden of social distancing, which, short of a future vaccine, is the nation’s best hope against the rampant spread of the virus.
The federal government is now backing what states around the country have recently implemented. This includes, in harder-hit states, the closure of all restaurants, bars, and schools, as well as prohibiting meetings of 10 or more people.
US Seeks to Avoid European Outcome
In Europe, the situation can best be described as dire. The case count on the continent may well pass China’s total, while the combined cases around the world have already done so. Spain, France, Germany and Italy are some of the hardest hit countries.
The tragedy of Italy’s outbreak has received substantial attention. Italy, with an elderly population caught off guard by the virus’ sudden explosion in cases, found its infrastructure completely overwhelmed and death rates well above the global average. In a situation more reminiscent of a world war than a civilian hospital, difficult decisions were made regarding to whom to administer a ventilating machine, or even who should receive a hospital bed.
The United States has fewer hospital beds per capita than Italy. That means that, if the outbreak reaches the same level here, our system will be overwhelmed and we may well face the same choices.
Show the World How We Respond as a Nation
During World War 2, the United States faced a major threat to public safety, and mobilized the full might of our manpower, resources, and collective conscience to face it. All Americans, in some form or another, made sacrifices to benefit the country as a whole. As one people, we met the challenge and ultimately overcame the enemy. Now is a moment that calls for similar unity, poise, and shared effort.
While the aggressor today is not human, the threat is no less grave and requires the same collective feat as we saw eighty years ago. We must adopt the same cooperative mindset, albeit with less direct physical interaction. Rather than hoarding, help. Rather than panicking, prepare. To millennials: do not ignore the threat to your parents and grandparents by needlessly socializing.
While fights in grocery stores and tumbling markets make headlines, communities around the country are showing what America is truly about. Neighborhood bulletin boards are now filled with offers to deliver groceries to neighbors’ doorsteps, and doctors offering medical advice to relieve an already strained medical system. This is the same country that’s emerged from each crisis stronger than before, and such a mindset will get us through this one.