Safety is Beyond Binary

Why are political parties more important than public health?

By: Carsen Blevins

 Living in the United States, one of the most ironic thing about it is the word United. In America, with democracy there come certain issues with having a choice; some people make their political party their entire life- and attack anyone who doesn’t agree. Yes, Republicans and Democrats have always had their separate ideologies, issues, and choices, but none of these debates should be about masks. 

Some might argue that the nationwide mask mandate is a ¨violation of their freedom¨ or their right to choose. Public health is a community issue, not an individual one. You are not immune, nor are the people around you. Masks were created to protect individuals surrounding themselves; when you wear one it’s to hinder the number of bacteria you spread to others. Without a mask just a breath of air can release bacteria up to 6 ½ feet- you never know who’s father has an auto-immune disease, or who is the mother to a new baby.

Wearing a mask is purely about consideration, and seeing multiple videos a day of grown adults throwing a tantrum about having to wear a piece of cloth really has lessened my hope for this country. It really only seems to be the United States with this problem. 

In a BBC article written in July titled, Coronavirus: Why are Americans so angry about masks? Tara McKelvey explains this feud simply as, ¨The wearing of masks has become a catalyst for political conflict, an arena where scientific evidence is often viewed through a partisan lens.”

 It’s no surprise that with an issue this big, people would make it a ¨this or that¨ situation, but where are they getting this false information? Straight from the White House itself. On January 5th, the World Health Organization released a statement regarding information about an ¨unknown disease¨, which got on our U.S National Security officials radar. Closely following the release of the information, officials repeatedly warned President Trump of the virus. Here is a quick timeline from the beginning of the quarantine. From January 11th to January 21st, China reported having 1 death due to the virus, confirmed that human contact is the main cause and Washington has its first case. 10 days it took for the illness to infiltrate our country. That sounds like a national emergency to me. On January 22nd, Trump’s first statement on the virus was aired on a news station, CNBC, where he states that the United States has it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China, and we have it under control. It’s — going to be just fine.¨ Today, on September 3rd, there are 186,000 deaths and 6.1 million reported cases. 

It is not just the job of the president to perpetuate public health, though. It has fallen upon us to take up safe practices, like social distancing and, of course, the American people, and purposely withholding information has done us more harm than good. It is estimated that if Trump had reported the severity of the virus in January when he had learned about it, that 150,000 lives would have been saved. That is how important and absolutely necessary masks are, and regardless of a political party, it is our duty, and our government’s duty to work together to prevent any more innocent lives from being lost.

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