By Nick Blauner for Boston Compass (#122)
March 25, 2020
On March 20, the city of Wuhan had forty-eight consecutive hours without a newly infected patient. The first case of corona virus in the city was documented in late December 2019. America’s preliminary patient was not documented until January 20, almost a full month after the cluster of outbreaks in Wuhan. It would be unwise to use Wuhan’s timeline as a way to chart where America stands in the current epidemic. By doing that, you would also be assuming the situation in Wuhan is over. In any case, this country has a long way to go. Some people still don’t believe that the virus is worthy of the pandemonium it has created. Howie Carr, a long-time talk show radio host in the Boston area, has consistently questioned the severity of the situation. He has argued that the virus is blown out of proportion by the liberal news media to help clear the way for more socialism in the United States government. Other conservative talk show hosts have argued that our country should not declare Marshall Law, for it is an infringement of our freedom. At a time where hospitals are beginning to run out of medical supplies, General Motors, Ford, and Tesla offered to mass-produce ventilators, and cruise liners are being used as hospitals, America is still not united. The political and ideological divide that splits our country has not been abridged in the last month. If anything, it has only widened. At first, liberal governors were accused of using the virus to fearmonger. Representative Matt Gaetz even wore a gas mask to the floor of the H.O.R, in an effort to mock the reporting. He was forced to quarantine a few days later. Unemployment has risen to staggering numbers, and many businesses fear bankruptcy. Both large corporations and local restaurants, bars, and other companies have requested federal aid. American Airlines, for example, along with several other national airline chains, have requested a bailout in the form of over fifty billion dollars. They have argued if the federal government does not provide direct stimulus, they will be forced to cut pay among their employees by over sixty percent, along with sweeping layoffs. These same owners, for the last ten years of academic prosperity, have bought back shares of their companies and have given themselves large bonuses. As a result, they currently have an unbalanced debt-to-cash ratio. This situation will only grow worse. More people will die, and the economy will continue to shrink. Yet there are some silver linings. In countries where a nation-wide quarantine has been implemented, pollution levels have lowered. In America, crime rates have dropped considerably since late February. And among everyday people, there seems to be a growing sense of community—one that extends globally. Perhaps when the virus has run its course, and the world has the ability to reflect on its historical impact, it will be remembered for the unification it created among humanity.