Our national hubris could be turning into ignorance

By: Matthew Twillman, Columnist

As the unprecedented coronavirus pandemic rages across the globe, it has come as a shock to many in the United States that our country currently leads the world in cases by a wide margin

Despite the dire state our nation has fallen into, American leadership has worsened the issue by ignoring global coronavirus warnings, and conservatives such as Glenn Beck are pontificating that they would “rather die” from COVID-19 than risk pandemic-related economic damage that would already be occurring whether we open our country back up or not. 

Easter has come and gone. Trump’s previous push to have “packed churches” by Easter was an international embarrassment. Only in the days just before Easter had Trump finally recognized the untenability of this position. Despite this, many churches held services in open defiance of federal social distancing guidelines, and eight states have been granted exemptions on stay-at-home orders to hold religious services. Even more startling is the fact that the number of states with strictly enforced stay-at-home orders without religious exemption make up a tiny minority, according to the Religion News Service.

Many of our institutions seem to be more focused on how to subvert these government orders. Rather than trying to understand the reasons these orders were put in place, American leadership throughout the country has completely ignored the clear and present danger before us. In New York alone, COVID-19 has already killed more than double of those who died at Ground Zero on 9/11.

All of this rabble with the fussy religious institutions of America is just a symptom of a larger problem – American overconfidence has made us hesitant and squeamish about adapting our lifestyles to this crisis. Our essential workers have been largely unrewarded despite risking their lives at their jobs. As these essential workers are themselves starting to die from COVID-19, we all have a duty to wear protective gear not just to protect ourselves, but to prevent the spread of the disease to others.

This is not a time for hesitation, but President Trump has expressed desires to go without a mask all the same.

“With the masks, it is going to be really a voluntary thing,” Trump said at his April 3 White House coronavirus briefing. “You can do it. You don’t have to do it. I am choosing not to do it.” 

We should, however, not use masks as a substitute for social distancing. “It’s voluntary,” Trump added.

Even though recent evidence has shown social distancing in the United States is working, we have to keep it up. Citing the success of social distancing thus far, many states have called to prematurely end the practice. This stubborn insistence from some states to get back to work amidst the pandemic has disturbed many health officials.

We cannot think of ourselves as somehow larger than the virus. We need to follow the advice of the CDC and WHO. If you have a mask, wear one. You can even make a mask from an old t-shirt. Even if it’s just a scarf, anything is better than nothing. Try not to pay with cash when going to the store as a courtesy to our essential workers, who have a slim chance of catching the virus through paper money.

Unfortunately, case numbers in the U.S. for COVID-19 have ballooned so much simply because our leadership waited until it was perhaps too late to meaningfully control the spread of COVID-19. For now, We The People will do the best we can.

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