A wakeup call for voters

How coronavirus has exposed weaknesses in the United States government

Sarah Brager, editor, photographer

Trump dismisses threats from the coronavirus while speaking at a press conference on Feb. 28 for his task force. photo CNBC

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic hit the US much harder than expected, highlighting a lack of preparedness in the country. Conditions in the US are growing more extreme, as the number of reported COVID-19 cases passed 200,000, and many states are calling for shelter in place; citizens are left confused as to how things got this out of control, especially in a nation as developed as the US. Could it be possible that America isn’t the top of the developed world?

Well, when the US is compared with other developed nations whom have been affected by COVID-19, there’s a clear lacking on our part: a healthcare system strong enough to support the people. Because of the large amount of high out-of-pocket costs in this country, many Americans are reluctant to seek out the medical attention they know they need. When infected people cannot afford to be tested or treated, the number of infections inevitably rises.

While the US health care system was already weaker than those with national benefits, a lack of action from our government also greatly increased the consequences of this virus. President Trump was hesitant to take early action regarding the virus, possibly because he was distracted by his impeachment trial. Regardless of warnings from health professionals and intelligence agencies alike,  Trump was dismissive of the threat to the nation. According to the article in the New York Times, Trump made a statement regarding COVID-19 outbreaks in the US, saying “it’s going to disappear. One day – it’s like a miracle – it will disappear.”

The result of this has been destructive and deadly. According to the CDC, the number of deaths in the US related to COVID-19 have exceeded 5,000, a number that could have been reduced if the government had taken this pandemic more seriously. City streets are empty and the economy is spiraling downward, and still, many Americans cannot afford to get tested.

It’s clear that COVID-19 has impacted this country in ways Americans had not expected, and it will continue to do so. However, there are measures that can be taken to prepare for future incidents. This should be seen as a moment of clarity regarding the healthcare system; it’s flaws have been exposed. Furthermore, as millions of Americans have already lost their jobs, the number of uninsured citizens will undoubtedly rise. Universal health coverage has the potential to save many lives, so it’s time for Americans to strive toward adoption of this policy. It’s not necessarily a guarantee of safety – Italy has a universal health care system and the deaths are still piling up. But it is a step in the right direction to protect the American public.

The failure of President Trump to defend his people should serve as a wakeup call for voters. This pandemic can, by all means, be considered a time of crisis, and a time of crisis is when the public relies on the president most. The virus may be a thing of nature, but the chaos in this country was triggered by more than just natural causes. The United States should view this as a time to grow – a time to adopt policies that protect the people and elect a president that does not rely on miracles to solve problems.