Of all the pandemics we’ve ever experienced, as a nation or as a globe, nothing can compare to the impacts of the current COVID-19 crisis that we all collectively face. Although the dangers of the virus itself have been reported on, seemingly at nauseum, a different danger of equal importance has emerged, almost as if to replace another.
The Coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. seemed to be a result of a botched effort by the Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, to regulate the amount of available, safe, private testing for patients, according to sources from the Washington Post and the Foundation for Economic Education. A similar procedure was in place during the HIV outbreaks in the 1980’s, although on a much smaller scale, preventing treatment on the basis of insufficient research, despite effectiveness. In short, the restrictions in place against private labs and at-home testing today, despite their safety, slowed treatment research, as the CDC was relied on to produce results quickly; a difficult task for one federal entity. The ensuing result was uncontained spreading in vast numbers, clogging our hospitals and crippling our markets, as scared investors caught wind of an impending firestorm that the media couldn’t help but ignite.
To slow the rate of hospitalizations and infections due to corona, 42 states have initiated “stay at home” orders for their inhabitants. Although social distancing and group mitigation laws are currently enforced nationally, the gubernatorial laws effectively shut down any businesses that were deemed non-essential to give the healthcare system breathing room for management. However, as we approach almost two months of lockdown, many have called into question the effectiveness of the quarantine and its goal to not only “flatten the curve”, or reduce new infections in the early days of the pandemic, but in helping those in need.
Especially concerning is a statement from The Hill saying, “Although a flatter curve may reduce deaths in particularly overburdened health systems, the net number of lives lost may not substantially differ over the course of the disease.” CBS news also released a statement that concluded 66% of New York’s infections were from people who stayed home. Thus, the misconception that a lockdown would eliminate the disease or even reduce casualties seems to be a falsehood. In fact, continuing to have our national economies on hold might prove just as deadly, some experts have acknowledged.
The continuation of this national quarantine has also been detrimental to the mental health of the national public. Risk factors for anxiety, depression, and especially suicide have increased within the event, only adding to the tragedy of the situation. Food shortages in rural areas of the U.S. are also an inevitable possibility of a continued lockdown, as food companies such as Tyson Foods, Smithfield, and JBS, which are some of the largest distributors in the U.S, were forced to close packing plants all across the country, mainly after concerns amidst an outbreak in one facility. Despite efforts by the federal government to distribute stimulus checks to taxpayers in our country, many are still without work, or a means to put food on the table, and for the people who are still waiting for checks they may not receive, basic amenities like food, water, soap, and toiletries are seemingly out of reach.
While you may view the protests across the country as foolish, dangerous, or petty, it’s important to understand that the people participating may be just as scared, confused, and anxious as you are. Instead of separating yourself from a collective group of people because of who you think they all are, try to find common ground. We should all be working toward the mutual goal of lessening that which makes us vulnerable, malleable, and subservient: fear. For it is fear that makes us illogical, and, while it may sound rich coming from a school newspaper, logic and reason is what we need now more than ever to suffice.