COVID-19 has no preference for party affiliations, and neither should we. As we suffer through a pivotal moment in history, it’s easy to point a finger and find someone to blame. Ever-changing intelligence does not offer the same clarity as hindsight. Our governing body has displayed both strengths and weaknesses in doing what we have shown ourselves incapable of. While experts argue and lament on every perceived failure, we must also acknowledge the decisions made that had a positive impact.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported in the United States on January 22nd, 2020. In less than 90 days, a virus has taken our nation hostage. Citizens are being asked to stay in their homes to protect their neighbors while their businesses are forced to close. Across every social media platform, the internet exploded with experts in infectious diseases and constitutional scholars offering different statistics and facts.
As information turned from speculation to fact, decisions were made with the intention of saving as many lives as possible from a pandemic. When Governor Cooper, a Democrat, issued his order to stay at home, U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis, a Republican supported the order. There are many examples of this bipartisan support, but it is not without conflict. Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Forest said Cooper lacked the authority to order bars and restaurants to close.
The internet launched a Twitter attack on Forest that drew national attention. He was, for a moment, the face someone who chose to put economic development over human life. Yet, a balance must be struck as the government exerts its power on the citizens. Politicians must feel safe calling out their peers who may be in violation of the document they are both sworn to protect. The same rights we have today survived through the 1918 Pandemic (H1N1 virus), 1957-1958 Pandemic (H2N2 virus), 1968 Pandemic (H3N2 virus), and the 2009 H1N1 Pandemic (H1N1pdm09 virus).
On a federal level, the President, Senate, and House managed to agree on a bill to mitigate the economic fallout from COVID-19. While there is widespread disagreement on the level of authority that should or should not be coming from Washington, North Carolina is leading by example through bipartisan communication and support.
Ineffective communication from our state and federal leaders has repercussions at a local level. Local leaders look to state leaders for guidance, then often state leaders look to federal leaders. Our local leaders must make decisions instead of waiting for federal guidance. In the age of video conferences and a culture obsessed with cell phones, it is a choice to be unavailable.
Simulations and action plans do not prepare a leader to bear the weight of life and death with millions of lives in the balance. The political infighting among pundits who attempt to force-feed opinions through strategically aligned facts and pointed sound bites only serves to separate the citizens in need from their primary news source.
As the future and recovery loom on the horizon, the focus of priorities may well change because of the pandemic. An idealistic community-based mentality with fewer tethers at a national level where news and opinions are reported on different channels and statistics are not gathered to support specific conclusions.