We entered 2020 naively with hope for the future, never imagining what could come ahead. In late 2019, a virus similar to the SARS virus spread through China starting in wet markets in Wuhan. It quickly spread across the world taking hundreds of thousands of lives with it. Of course we know this already.
It’s 2021 and we’re still dealing with this in the United States. But in Countries like New Zealand people are going out without masks and without fear. In Taipei, the Taiwanese capital, more than 130,000 people gathered for one of the only pride parades in person. Where did we go wrong?
WHO, the World Health Organization, holds New Zealand as a great example in how to implement a lock down. The New Zealand government told their citizens to go home and stay there for the better part of six weeks. Even at its peak, New Zealand only had 89 cases a day. Keep in mind that New Zealand has the population of 4.9 million people while the United States has 328 million. The time bought by the lockdown allowed the government to do testing and extensive contact tracing. Why couldn’t the US do this? The Economy.
Countries like the US rely on tourism, travel, hospitality, and entertainment. With those major industries unable to open we saw a shrinkage in the GDP 30 times worse than the recession in 2009. While the economy is shut down, policymakers will need to ensure that people are able to meet their needs and that businesses can pick up once the pandemic passes. We did not get that. Even now politicians are still debating whether to give families stimulus checks to get them through this financial crisis.
Another reason the US could not succeed in the same way New Zealand did was lack of support and belief. When the CDC started asking people to wear masks, people in America responded in outrage with claims that it was against their freedoms to wear masks. When even former President Donald Trump refused to wear a mask it was no surprise that the number of COVID-19 cases began to climb. Uncooperative Americans began protests that then became super spreader events. Major politicians broke their own lock down rules which did not help to convince the people to support the lock down.
It also didn’t help that American citizens didn’t understand the full scope of the pandemic. In late 2020 it was revealed that the former president had lied about how severe the virus truly was and even contracted it himself leaving him in the hospital.
Misinformation spread rapidly online about the virus anywhere from secret herbal cures to saying that if your blood alcohol level is high enough you won’t be able to catch the virus. The US government has gotten a little bit better with their facts and myths website and FAQ page. But their actions are still lackluster.
With two new strains of the virus around, government officials have been eager to pass out vaccines to make up for their failure of containing the virus previously. Of course history repeats itself as people refuse to do something for their own safety and the safety of others. People have started refusing the vaccines because of a conspiracy theory that the government is using these vaccines as an excuse to microchip citizens and track them. As if your phone or the device you are reading this on doesn’t do that already. It doesn’t help that appointments aren’t easy to make and there aren’t enough to go around. There’s debates on who should get it and the possible side effects that could come with a rushed vaccine.
With citizens and politicians seemingly trying to keep this virus alive it is a wonder if we’ll ever be able to take off our masks. Predictions previously said it would all be over by 2021 but now the CDC predicts we might still be quarantining until 2022. The American people need to get their acts together for the sake of our country and future. Let us follow New Zealand and Thailand’s lead and start making better decisions to get rid of the virus.