By Saanvi Mirchandani and Olivia Wong
COVID-19 cases are rising more than ever, yet many still refuse to acknowledge that masks are necessary to prevent the spread. There is scientific evidence proving the effectiveness of masks and social distancing, so why would there be any controversy over something that could save countless lives? The answer is politicization. Masks and vaccines might not have been so widely disputed if not for the politicians who interfered with public health experts and consequently further divided the nation. As a result, many have used our constitutional rights as a reason to neglect responsibility.
Some describe a mask mandate as unconstitutional because they feel that they are being coerced into wearing one. The statement “America is a free country” is the foundation of their argument that they should not have to follow guidelines. Nevertheless, this situation is so much bigger than us. There are thousands of lives lost, and the numbers are continuing to rise at an alarming rate. Frontline workers are swamped, and the suicide rates of doctors are disturbingly high in which 22% of doctors know a physician who committed suicide, according to a study done by the Physicians Foundation. Wearing a mask is a choice in the United States, but it is up to Americans to make a choice for the collective, similar to how people come together to help each other in crises.
Source by Saanvi Mirchandani
Masks have now become a political symbol instead of a way to keep everyone safe during this pandemic.
Government officials in the United States have questioned the use of masks, mocked others for complying with CDC guidelines, and outright refused to listen to science. For example, President Trump has repeatedly downplayed the virus, held multiple indoor, maskless rallies, refused to be photographed with a mask, and ridiculed President-elect Joe Biden for wearing one.
In addition, many Republican governors have failed to implement mask mandates, but those states are seeing a high increase in cases. There is a disconnect that harms everyone in the country because politicians have the power to influence the public. Therefore, it is inevitable that some will follow their train of thought, resulting in an inflation of distrust in the science behind public health.
Democratic states have implemented strict mask laws and guidelines for public places; states such as New York and Massachusetts have been able to keep the positive test rate relatively low, which in turn reduces hospitalizations.
However, in California, COVID-19 regulations have become stricter, but Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom was caught in a hypocritical knot. After discouraging gatherings for Thanksgiving, photos emerged of Newsom at a private dinner where none of the 12 guests were wearing masks or properly socially distanced. Governors cannot expect citizens to follow social distancing guidelines when they are not following the rules themselves.
“If the adults in the building do not take their roles as leaders seriously, there is no reason for impressionable students to follow suit...”
It is not unrealistic to ask teachers in our own school to bear the same responsibility. Students can see with their own eyes when some teachers fail to wear their masks properly or entirely. Consequently, this makes people in the classroom and the hallways uncomfortable and uneasy. If the adults in the building do not take their roles as leaders seriously, there is no reason for impressionable students to follow suit.
Along with masks, the vaccine for COVID-19 has been extremely politicized, causing increased hesitancy among the American people. Regarding the president’s campaign, Trump stated that his administration was responsible for the roll-out of a vaccine, and he used it as a focal point during his road to reelection.
“The @US_FDA and the Democrats didn’t want to have me get a Vaccine WIN, prior to the election, so instead it came out five days later – As I’ve said all along!” said Trump via Twitter.
Everyone should be working together to end the destruction of the nine-month-long pandemic, but politicians today blame each other for failures while hunting for ways to take credit for successes. After the White House tried blocking FDA guidelines concerning the vaccine, surveys showed that some American citizens are concerned about the vaccine because they feel that the Trump administration had ulterior motives, resulting in rushed trials. Although Pfizer, among other companies, has reassured the world that they do not want to be associated with politics, our leaders’ words nevertheless hold power and influence. The consequence is that politicians have derailed public confidence in a possible solution that can end this pandemic soon.
“The health and safety of the American people is not an issue for Republicans and Democrats to debate...”
Scientists and healthcare workers alike have expressed their frustration with the politicization of these issues.
“Quite frankly, we had no time and still have no time to deal with politics. We are at this 24/7, thousands of people working diligently to make this work. And for us, it was never about politics, it was always about just the disaster that we were in the middle of, all of us globally, seeing the devastation and the deaths,” said Kathrin Jansen, head of Vaccine Research and Development at Pfizer.
Political parties and their divides need to stay separate from public health issues. This pandemic has taught us that right now, many matters in America become political in nature, and in the case of COVID-19, scientific evidence has come into question. The health and safety of the American people is not an issue for Republicans and Democrats to debate. If we want to fight and end the coronavirus, we need to do it together.