The United States of America had the same information regarding COVID-19 as the rest of the world. However, unlike countries such as South Korea, Germany, and Australia, the U.S. chose not to act swiftly to the looming threat of a global pandemic. This decision cost thousands of lives.
In a contribution to The Atlantic, Thomas Chatterson Williams details the stark contrast between the U.S. response to COVID-19 versus the European country. Williams, who lives in France, describes reentering life as France knew it before the virus, months after their president mandated one of the most aggressive nationwide quarantines.
After shutting down tourism and issuing stay-at-home orders (with financial compensation), France contained the virus and enjoyed life as it once was pre-corona, in just a few months. As France reopened, Thomas was concerned with how eager French citizens were to resume public life amidst the virus.
However, this was before he realized how dire the pandemic was stateside in comparison. In July, France totaled more than 6,000 new COVID-19 cases a day, while the U.S. clocked in at 50,000. According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), the U.S. has an infection rate of 120 cases per 10,000 people while France only has 20 cases per 10,000. This analysis accounts for the difference in population sizes between the two countries. In other words, the U.S. is still being overcome by COVID-19, seven months into the pandemic.
Americans should be concerned with their growing desensitization to death and illness. None of what we see happening is normal. Infection rates in the U.S. should not still be climbing. While it’s perfectly acceptable to temporarily adapt to life during a pandemic, accepting it without the expectation of returning to a better quality of life should not be tolerated.
It’s not normal to be unable to hug your family members and friends, nor is it normal (or healthy) to stay in the house for copious amounts of time. We should not accept the fact that more than 200,000 people have died due to this virus, and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight. None of this should be tolerated, especially when we’ve witnessed the success of other countries that have had a much more rigorous coronavirus response than the U.S.
According to the Pew Research Center, 52 percent of Americans are dissatisfied with the U.S. response to the coronavirus. Fifty-eight percent of Americans also believe that more international cooperation would have reduced the number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. During a global health crisis, nations across the world collaborate to develop treatment plans and vaccines for whatever ailment is afflicting the population. Many of these scientific breakthroughs are impossible without worldwide knowledge to pool from. Additionally, people in general, learn more and learn faster when they’re learning together. The response to the Ebola outbreak of 2014 is an example of this type of collaboration.
America’s delayed response to the coronavirus is part of the reason why the country is still in the virus’ grip. Americans should not accept lukewarm measures to contain the COVID-19 in place of ambitious rigorous strategies, such as contact tracing and unlimited free testing. Turning pandemic life into a “new normal” is complacency. If we’re okay living like this, then we will be okay with thousands of more people dying or otherwise being seriously impacted by the virus. If we accept COVID-19 as a new way of life, in place of a united and healthy existence, what else are we willing to compromise?