By Olivia Pan ‘20
Chief Opinions Editor
Last weekend, many individuals in various states took to their state capitals in order to protest social distancing measures and shelter-in-place orders, put into effect by their governors, due to the Coronavirus pandemic. According to Huffington Post: “The protesters have been mostly right-wing followers, anti-vaccination advocates and gun rights activists who in some photos can be seen standing close together without masks or gloves, in defiance of the social distancing guidelines meant to slow the spread of the virus.” Protesters could be seen holding signs which read slogans such as, “My Body, My Choice,” “Let Our People Go-lf,” and “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Covid,” just to name a few.
Of course, ever so predictably, on Sunday at a White House press briefing, Trump was nothing but supportive of these individuals, stating that “some governors have gone too far,” and essentially indicating that these individuals possess the right to protest social distancing measures, despite stark warnings from health experts and officials. In short, Trump contradicted his own health experts, and some of his own administration’s directives. At no time have we seen Trump and his administration guiding, informing, or demanding citizens to follow a protocol across the board recommended by the nation’s top infectious disease experts.
Trump has frequently and dangerously flip-flopped when it comes to presenting a clear stance on how the country should proceed through this crisis, and has left all major decisions to the state’s governors. Not only has he distanced himself from having to make the tough calls and the painful directives, but he has blamed individual states for not being prepared, and has had spats with reporters and Governors who call him out on a lack of testing for the virus or a lack of urgency when first informed of a possible pandemic.
In fact, some governors in states like Tennessee, Georgia, and South Carolina are planning to ease restrictions on social distancing in the very near future. According to the Washington Post, Georgia Governor, Brian Kemp, has stated that salons and gyms will reopen on April 24th, and restaurants will be allowed to open their doors on April 27th. Both Trump and Pence have expressed support towards Gov. Kemp’s decision.
The truth is, there is no individual to whom we can look to for unified leadership at this critical time. Trump refuses to take charge on this issue and call for a nationwide shutdown because his number one priority is for the economy to reopen as soon as possible, despite the number of lives which could potentially be lost. He has left all major decisions up to individual states, which is not only reckless, but creates a deeply fragmented sense of unification across this country. At a time such as this, all states and citizens need to be on the same page.
Most Americans are frightened of the fall-out from this virus, their worries ranging from how to pay their bills and keep their children on track to how to stave off isolation and depression. It is incredibly sad that Americans did not have a strong leader willing to make calls for the entire country. Rather, we had one who was too busy campaigning, pointing fingers, and fighting in press conferences with reporters, when we, as a country, desperately needed a leader. The fall-out from this lack of leadership may be worse than the fall-out from the virus.