It is no surprise that in the modern political climate, the COVID-19 pandemic has created new divides along partisan lines. Recent conservative protests across the nation demanding that the country be reopened have sparked a debate that centers around when and how the United States should reopen its economy. Yet, the arguments largely fall into the typical partisan camps. Given the gravity of this public health crisis, this partisanship proves damaging and ignores our non-partisan situation.
Conservative protesters argue that business closures infringe upon their rights and that the resulting economic downturn could prove disastrous. On the other side, liberals voice that preventing the spread of disease and not overwhelming health care systems should be the nation’s top priority.
These partisan debates fail to see the urgency in both scenarios. By keeping the economy closed and mandating shelter-in-place orders, unemployment has soared to 12.4% and domestic violence incidents have risen globally by as much as 50% in Brazil. Anxieties have risen around making rent payments and potential food insecurity, especially with an inconsistent food supply on grocery store shelves.
By completely dismissing these protestors, liberal Americans disregard the extremely real and harmful consequences of keeping the economy closed for longer than is necessary.
However, if the economy reopens in accordance with the conservative protesters’ demand, the United States faces the risk of another spike. Though many claim that the virus will weaken in the summer, a report from the National Academy of Sciences states, “given that countries currently in ‘summer’ climates, such as Australia and Iran, are experiencing rapid virus spread, a decrease in cases with increases in humidity and temperature elsewhere should not be assumed.”
If everyone were to re-enter the world, waiting in crowded coffee shops, touching door handles in offices and sending young children to visit their grandparents, the virus could spread more rapidly, which is a risk that should be taken seriously. To laugh off the threat of COVID-19 in the name of liberty and partisan loyalty endangers the entire nation. While around 30,000 new cases are being reported daily, the dangers of close contact remain severe. The CDC warns, “COVID-19 spreads mainly among people who are in close contact (within about six feet) for a prolonged period.”
By entrenching themselves in extremist views and party politics, Americans have failed to unite in the face of tragedy and loss. Comradery and solidarity, instead of political rifts, would allow for productive debates about how and when the economy should reopen, protecting all Americans from the spread of COVID-19 and the dangers of job loss and domestic violence. In order to move toward a brighter future, all Americans must approach the discussion with an open mind and a genuine desire to do what is best for the country.
Emily Anderson is a Staff Writer. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.