Why the United States is not Progressing, Part I: COVID-19


In the last 12 months, the infamous coronavirus has infected every nook and cranny of the world.  Beginning in very late 2019, the disease from Wuhan, China began to grow and multiply in small numbers, evoking little concern to the rest of the world.  However, by the end of February of 2020, cases sprung up to over 80,000 worldwide, exploding exponentially to the near 90,000,000 cases we see today.  Yet, the odd thing is that some of the countries that expected to stay strong during this pandemic, are instead the ones that seem to falter the most, primarily the United States.  As of right now, the U.S. holds the number 1 spot for total coronavirus cases and clocks in at 22.5 million, solidifying a lead of over 12 million from that of the second place spot held by India.  Though the U.S. is an international power with economic, political, and social influence that spans the entire globe– so what is happening?  Why is the United States performing so poorly considering its height as an international power, and more importantly, what can be done to fix it?


The Government

Ever since the surge in cases that occurred over the spring of 2020, the U.S. government has characteristically been seen as antagonists in the sense that they were not doing enough.  This is true.  The United States government has done a poor job containing this infection.  They did not treat the matter as important at its beginning, and because of it, nearly 380,000 people have lost their lives. In addition to failure to recognize the immense potential of this virus, the government completely undermined their method of stopping the disease- lockdown, by reopening the country, once again exposing citizens to this deadly virus. Although more was known about the virus at the time of reopening, the date was far too soon.  And while many may have been suffocating from constant quarantine, the great rise in cases presented the opening’s outcome far more worse than the effects of staying isolated.  A graph released by the New York Times back in July showed a significant growth in cases in a matter of weeks after the reopening of the country’s industries– in some cases rising to more than 10 times the initial amount in states like Florida and Idaho.  This does not even begin to explain the faults of the government during this pandemic, such as their lack of reasoning with vaccine distribution and overall attitude and logic attending to this situation.  However, not all the blame directly falls onto those in power.


The Public

There is only so much that a governing body can do without the cooperation of its citizens.  With the coronavirus came the outrage of many with several continuing to gather, refusing to wear masks, and even denying the existence of the virus.  The state of the country will only improve if every person does their part.  A primary example of this not occurring is with the citizens going out and congregating at large parties, overall causing widespread acceleration of the virus.  During late summer, countless colleges and universities were forced to shut down only a matter of weeks after opening because of students throwing parties, adding case upon case.  These parties have not only been occurring in colleges either.  Back in early July, a massive house party in Michigan facilitated 43 new cases with a large amount more exposed.  It is not even just a matter of their personal safety, as the contraction of the virus spreads to others, endangering them as well.  This in conjunction with the public refusing to wear masks and to follow health protocols pans out to an inevitable setup for failure.


The Distribution of Vaccines

Talk of the vaccine for COVID-19 was happening well before it actually came out in late 2020.  Months upon months and tens of thousands of hours were put into developing a vaccine from companies such as Moderna and Pfizer.  However, the method of distributing these vaccines to the public has been flawed on many levels.  As the release of vaccines became closer, the government decided to vaccinate the people who require it first, such as the important governmental members, frontline workers, and the elderly– overall a good plan.  Yet, the execution of this plan was incredibly poor.  Distribution based on urgency was reversed as the vaccine was being given to people who did not immediately need it, such celebrities, sports teams, and the wealthy. These people were put ahead of the list which clearly, does not make sense.  There is absolutely no reason that these people should be placed ahead in the line compared to the rest of the population, especially those who work with or near people who have the virus, and people who are extremely vulnerable to the disease.  Those people have a higher chance of contracting the virus, meaning they should be given first priority– not celebrities, athletes, and the wealthy in their 30s and 40s — possibly meaning a difference between life and death.


The (Possible) Solutions

All of this turmoil happening right now needs an answer, and there is one.  First, the general public needs to do their part.  We need to wear masks in public; it should not even be a debate at this point.  We also need to limit ourselves.  Only going out for the necessary things and possibly only going out for one recreational activity once a week would be a strong step.  Parties should be out of the question and gatherings should be heavily limited.  Of course, that will not happen on its own, so law enforcement needs to monitor and ensure people are following these regulations, and possibly issue heavier fines.

Vaccine distribution also needs to be corrected.  The elderly, weak, and frontline workers should be getting the vaccine first with no exceptions.  Celebrities, athletes, and other influencers should not be given special privileges because of their wealth and/or status.  Once again, law enforcement will need to be involved in order for this rule to stick.  The federal government will need to be stricter when administering this distribution to regulate who will actually get the vaccine.  

Although the government needs serious improvements, nothing major is going to happen in our current crisis; it is simply impossible for a full refashioning in the midst of the pandemic.  However, the government can still make minor adjustments, mainly just using common logic.  If cases are going up, do not wait and say, “Maybe it will blow over,” until the nation is in a critical state– take action then and there.  

And finally, although no one wants it to happen, it is quite probable that this will be the only effective solution- A full lockdown.  If none of these solutions work this may be the only place we have left to turn.  Sending the country into a full lockdown is a controversial action, however it will be effective.  In this lockdown however, emphasis should be put on curfew.  Installing an early curfew will force people to stay indoors more.  In addition, when going out shopping, stores should limit the amount of people to 2 individuals per group.  This would prevent larger families from going all together, overall decreasing possible infection rate.  Law enforcement should be patrolling after curfew to ensure that everyone is home, and issue fines for those out without a meaningful excuse.  Parties and large gatherings will also need to be prohibited on a large scale with hefty fines in punishment.  Although this is a harsh way to constrict the virus, it may be the only one that works.  However, it can be avoided altogether with the cooperation of the people, and possible integration of the above solutions.  This virus will not go away unless we all work together.  Each person must do their part.


Works Cited

CNN, By Helen Regan, Adam Renton and <a href=”/profiles/angela-dewan”>Angela Dewan</a>. “Coronavirus News and Live Updates: Markets Take Historic Tumble as Virus Spreads.” CNN, 28 Feb. 2020, www.cnn.com/asia/live-news/coronavirus-outbreak-02-28-20-intl-hnk/index.html.

Gamio, Lazaro. “How Coronavirus Cases Have Risen since States Reopened.” The New York Times, 9 July 2020, www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/07/09/us/coronavirus-cases-reopening-trends.html.

Kelland, Kate. “Explainer: Will COVID-19 Vaccines Protect Us? Does Efficacy Equal Effectiveness?” Reuters, 27 Nov. 2020, www.reuters.com/article/health-coronavirus-vaccine-protection-idUSKBN287279. Accessed 9 Feb. 2021.

“Korea Cases Top 2,000; Nigeria Confirms Infection: Virus Update.” Bloomberg.com, 26 Feb. 2020, www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-02-26/most-new-infections-now-outside-china-who-says-virus-update. Accessed 9 Feb. 2021.

Lange, Jeva, and Theweek Com. The Vaccine Velvet Rope Source. , 2020.