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Stay home: A plea to the people

| Monday, March 30, 2020

The United States is becoming the world’s epicenter for COVID-19, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting over 103,321 cases as of March 28. That’s nearly seven times the number of confirmed cases from just one week ago, according to the World Health Organization. To make matters worse, we know that most people who have contracted the virus have likely not been tested and are therefore not counted in these totals. The worldwide pandemic is an unprecedented event in any of our lifetimes and will require the absolute best of our elected leaders managing the nation’s response.

Unfortunately, we have seen nothing but selfishness and ignorance from the president, his administration and many of his political allies. Trump’s biggest focus throughout his presidency has been the economy, and any indication of economic stall or recession would without a doubt hurt his re-election campaign. He has downplayed the coronavirus dozens of times and proved just how oblivious he was to the threat it posed by questioning if more ventilators were even needed and comparing the virus to influenza, suggesting a flu vaccine could have an effect on the coronavirus. He was quickly corrected by health professionals on both counts.

I could easily sit here and write all about how his political response has been a catastrophic failure that could have been predicted weeks earlier, but the issue is so much bigger than just a political one. Monumental crises like these hold our leaders to the highest standard, and the president has failed the American people through hesitant rhetoric and by misleading the tens of millions who have tuned in to the White House coronavirus briefings and other presidential interviews. For weeks he said things like “One day it’s like a miracle, it will disappear,” and “It will go away. Just stay calm, it will go away.” Only after his hand was forced by the medical professionals around him did he declare a national emergency and then claim that he has “always known this is real, this is a pandemic. I’ve felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic.” He has played every angle to try to benefit himself politically throughout the crisis, even claiming that the coronavirus was a hoax put on by Democrats to try to win the election. Since then, over 1,200 Americans and 26,000 people worldwide have died from the virus.

This is not an argument of policy –– it’s far beyond just politics. People naturally look to their leaders in times of crisis, and when the American public needed him more than ever, the president created a false sense of safety across the country by lying about the severity of the situation. He could have put the people before his re-election. He could have listened to the experts. He could have told the truth to the American public, and he certainly could begin to take the situation seriously now.

Instead, he is using Christianity’s holiest day of the year to prioritize the life of the economy over the lives of millions of our brothers and sisters in the United States and around the world, suggesting that Easter would be “a beautiful time” to have “packed churches all over our country.” This strictly defies what health experts have expected to be safe. With hospital visitation and gatherings of more than 10 people prohibited, those who die due to this dangerous proposal will die alone and without funerals. His blatant disregard for public safety is a perversion of the faith and what it means to be an American. Donald Trump has put himself above all else time and time again and has stained his hands with the blood of the most vulnerable members of our communities in the process.

My message to the president and to anyone who has yet to take social distancing seriously is this: The lives of my grandparents in their 80s are not expendable. The life of my close friend with cystic fibrosis is not expendable. The lives of millions in at-risk population groups are far more important than any amount of economic growth.

The government is beginning the process of sending money directly to Americans and is already increasing unemployment payments for those laid off due to the economic scare. Protections are being put into place for those who can’t make payments on time and tens of billions have been poured into funding for food assistance programs. People will survive financially for the time being — the same can’t be said about this outbreak. A recession is not the greatest of our concerns right now. The coronavirus is.

What many have yet to realize is that the longer we avoid social distancing, the longer we will have to do it. Doctors in Italy have had to choose who lives and who dies when they ran out of respirators in even the wealthiest parts of the country. That’s exactly where we’re headed if we can’t get our act together. Hospitals across the U.S. have already begun to consider “do not resuscitate” orders for infected patients when their heartbeat or breathing stops in order to save personal protective equipment and avoid putting healthcare workers at further risk, prioritizing the lives of the many over the lives of the few.

Unless you need groceries, medical attention or are doing isolated exercise, just stay home. The president has failed us as a leader and has proven himself incapable of putting the people first during this crisis. It’s time for Americans to do what we’ve always done best; to come together in desperate times in order to protect the estimated 2.2 million people who could die within our borders. Nobody deserves to die alone and without a funeral. Do your part. Flatten the curve. Stay home.

Ryan Murdock is a freshman studying civil engineering.  If you can’t find him discussing politics at Bridge meetings, he can be reached at [email protected]

BridgeND is a multipartisan political club committed to bridging the partisan divide through respectful and productive discourse. It meets on Tuesdays at 5 p.m. in the McNeill Room of LaFortune Student Center to learn about and discuss current political issues, and can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @bridge_ND.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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About BridgeND

BridgeND is a bipartisan student political organization that brings together Democrats, Republicans, and all those in between to discuss public policy issues of national importance. They meet Tuesday nights (starting Sept.8) from 8-9pm in the McNeil room of LaFortune. They can be reached at [email protected] or by following them on Twitter @bridge_ND

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