Peter Zay / Anadolu Agency / Getty
The question of whether the nation should reopen and return back to “normal” hangs in the air like a thick fog, refusing to retreat and hovering among us. As of now, there are about ten million cases and a quarter million of deaths throughout America, and a million cases in California alone; there is no telling what the future has in store for us.
What seemed like an extended break back in March turned into a worldwide shutdown that spanned the rest of the year and will likely spill into next year as well. People all around the world can only hope the future will be more forgiving than now.
However, hope is not reliable when it comes to a worldwide pandemic. The prospect of whether to reopen our nation’s schools, gyms, and restaurants, is more relevant than ever. Our nation tried to reopen too soon, underestimating the virus and hoping the pandemic would retreat. It quickly became clear that this decision was a mistake, as cases surged once again, settling comfortably into an incline over time.
It is true that the nation cannot be kept closed for much longer because the economy thrives on human interaction and because businesses are not getting the same traffic. Nonetheless, America failed to handle the incoming virus, which had much to do with the decisions of our country’s leaders, and with the commencement of the 2020 election. The fate of America lies heavily in the hands of the candidates.
On one hand, current US president and Republican candidate Donald Trump makes the reopening of the nation a priority at any cost, stating in the final presidential debate:
“No, we’re not going to shut down. And we have to open our schools… We’re rounding the turn. We’re rounding the corner. It’s going away.”
As much as the president of the United States wants to deny it, this mentality is why COVID-19 cases are rising daily all around the world. Opening up schools will endanger the younger generation, and contrary to popular belief, we are not immune. Schools are especially in danger because they have a dense population. Alongside that, schools without adequate funding will not be able to create a safe environment for their students.
We have to acknowledge that the virus is contagious, and that it will spread as the nation reopens. In fact, schools in Salt Lake City, Utah that tried to reopen were met with a huge spike in cases. The unpredictability of the spread of the virus should be firmly kept in mind no matter what. Reopening will vary for each school, and it is important to know how to prepare and address the necessary questions that come with each, individual district. Ignorance is not enough to will it away; we must take action to make sure we can create a safe nation.
America was not prepared for the pandemic, and the nation certainly did not adequately take control of the situation. Moreover, schools and organizations need resources and money to reopen safely, and it is best to have a plan to guide us through the struggles. Former vice president and president-elect Joe Biden gives an outline of a plan, saying “I would make sure that we set up national standards as to how to open up schools and open up businesses so they can be safe and give them the wherewithal, the financial resources to be able to do that.” Biden’s approach to the virus is one America needs to adapt. COVID-19–related deaths desperately need to climb down from the ranks before we can even think about lifting restrictive measures across the nation. America has lost its footing in this battle and needs to formulate a plan in order to conquer this virus.
It should also be noted that recently, countries in Europe such as France and Austria transitioned into the safe zone, but faced a resurgence of cases when they fully reopened. The result of the skyrocketing cases was another lockdown all throughout parts of Europe, causing a significant setback. If other countries cannot suppress the virus, there should be much doubt that America can pull it off with its population density and failure to contain the virus when it began. The unpredictability with this virus is a danger that should be reckoned and followed very closely.
In addition, there are notable issues within America that may jeopardize our wish to reopen, specifically, healthcare. America’s healthcare system simply cannot support the population. While most people may have access to health insurance, it is not uncommon for people — especially people of color — to struggle to afford healthcare, causing them to have no choice but to forego it. Healthcare is a right that needs to be extended to include everyone, regardless of socioeconomic background. Universal healthcare obviously cannot be granted overnight, but if America is serious about reopening, healthcare is a necessity, and it must become affordable and available for everybody.
Also, it should be noted America is simply too large to be able to control and monitor the virus. Take for example, South Korea, a country that has had much success with containing COVID-19. South Korea is 99 times smaller than the U.S., making it easier to observe and supervise the virus. Testing and monitoring the virus is very well carried out and contained. Most importantly, healthcare in South Korea is readily available and affordable throughout the country. Furthermore, citizens of South Korea do not oppose the mandatory mask rule along with keeping the promise of social distancing during the lockdown. Perhaps this can be attributed to the collectivism Asian countries were founded upon, but America has much to learn before taking a shot at trying to reopen.
America must take serious measures to keep us safe by implementing safe practices while easing into a soft reopening of the nation. We should not rush, especially when peoples’ lives are on the line.
Now more than ever, we as the people of America need to work together. If California and the nation wants to reopen, we as Americans need to push aside our differences, discomfort, and panic in order to work together to fight this disease.
Americans need to wear masks, social distance, and respect others who do not have the privilege of choosing to stay safe. We must remember this is not a fight amongst ourselves, nor between races of people. We must adapt a sense of collectivity because we are fighting for our survival, not for our comfort. Although we may be driven apart during this election, we need to acknowledge that America needs help, and we need it now.