COVID-19 is no doubt a global health crisis affecting any and everyone. The United States has definitely had a unique way of handling the pandemic. At the very beginning, when other countries were already either dealing with coronavirus, or making preparations, Trump alluded to the virus, and Democrats’ criticism of his handling of the virus, being a hoax. One thing is for sure, because of the administration’s poor handling of the pandemic, it has cost over 200,000 American lives. US intelligence had identified COVID as a potential threat by late November 2019, and by January and February of that next year, detailed reports were included in daily briefs for the president. Early 2020 was when most of the global community was being warned about this threat. And despite the virus beginning to spread in America, Trump told Americans not to worry. Suffice it to say, it was too little too late.
One major change America had to make as a country was to reposition its capitalist economy. As a nation thriving on consumer culture, once businesses began closing, enforcing social distancing, and laying off workers—capitalism could no longer work. Even before COVID, there was already a discourse surrounding minimum-wage work, labor rights, and housing reform. Because so many businesses were closing or letting fewer people work because of the lack of business, people did not have a steady source of income. And since quarantine has been for roughly seven months, for many people, those were seven months of being unable to pay rent. It’s no wonder that a cancel-rent movement began to be more highlighted in our discourse because so many people were working half-time or not at all.
Small businesses were also taking a hit during the pandemic and because of our consumer culture mentality, so many people were not only financially struggling and wanting the economy to “reopen,” but so many people were unaware of what to do with their time since they could no longer engage in consumer culture by shopping in stores physically, eating out at restaurants, spending money on entertainment like movies and concerts, or even just going to bars and clubs. Both our culture and economy were being taken in a direction that most people have never experienced.
The money question
Because COVID has had a tremendous impact on the U.S. economy, much of the political discourse about the virus has been about money. Once several places began a process of “lockdown,” several people protested, demanding businesses and sources of recreation be reopened. Many of them were conservative groups and Trump supporters. Within the COVID socioeconomic discourse were also conversations about the stimulus check and unemployment benefits. People were talking about healthcare and the economy because of the nearly $30,000 COVID treatment costs. Wearing a mask and social distancing has been the main rhetorical points from health professionals, but because the president hasn’t taken the virus seriously, it has led a lot of people to not care, not wear masks, and not socially distance themselves—despite over 200,000 people dying from COVID.
Socialised medicine for everyone, not only the president
During the first 2020 presidential debate, Trump said: “I don’t wear face masks like [Joe Biden],…Every time you see him he’s got a mask. He could be speaking 200 feet away…and he shows up with the biggest mask I’ve ever seen.” Two days later he tested positive for coronavirus. He spent a couple of days at Walter Reeds, and apparently, after being treated for COVID he felt all better. He sent out a series of tweets essentially telling everyone to not worry too much about COVID—despite over 200,000 people dying from the virus.
An important conclusion to realize about this situation is that Trump regularly insults socialized medicine even though he had access to it. Trump had access to not only the best doctors, but he had access to experimental treatments not yet accessible for average Americans and he did not have to pay for any of it. He got to stay in a suite and get better while 200,000 Americans died. Americans won’t have that kind of health services unless perhaps they are a part of the 1%. Americans won’t have that kind of health services if the Affordable Care Act is completely taken away, leaving many without health insurance at all and many with high healthcare costs because of their preexisting conditions. He continues to downplay the lethality of the pandemic, which will no doubt probably cause more Americans to die. I agree with Kamala Harris’ statement that Trump’s handling of the pandemic to be his greatest failure as president.