Original Publish Date: February 9, 2021
“And yet to every bad there is a worse.” - Thomas Hardy
Covid-19 Turns One
January 21, 2021, marked the one-year anniversary when the United States announced its first patient with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) (COVID-19). The following day, some 318 days after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a global pandemic, California confirmed 3,108,012 COVID-19 cases to date and 36,962 fatalities.
When it comes to COVID-19, medicine in part has performed miracles over twelve months, vastly improving its ability to identify the virus and its efficacy in treating it, not to mention developing a vaccine designed to stop it. Nevertheless, COVID-19 has little interest in stay-at-home orders or social distancing, nor does the pandemic favor either side in a polarized nation.
A Race to the End
Historically, there have been two primary paths by which a pandemic ends, described by historians as “medical” and “social”. In the first example, the pandemic effectively kills the totality of those for which it was created, and the second example describes a society that simply no longer cares. COVID-19 introduced a new element of uncertainty, the manifestation of which is mixed between those who refuse to believe the pandemic is real and others with possibly unwarranted fear of the virus.
The record-breaking speed in manufacturing a biological preparation designed to provide acquired immunity to COVID-19, however, is caught in the cross-fire between believers and non-believers. It also affords the planet and its 7.8 billion inhabitants a greater understanding of the words “develop” and “deploy” in English (desarrolar and desplegar in Spanish and razvivat’sya and razvernut’ in Russian). Overall, the United States passionately responds to the global pandemic, even though deep within the nation’s epicenter there is a call to arms that has everything to do with COVID-19, yet concurrently, nothing to do with it. Like many battles throughout history, only with the passage of time does the true enemy present itself.
Battle for the Branches
On January 6, 2021, a Washington, D.C. protest in support of President Trump turned riot when it poured into the halls of Congress, claiming five lives along the way. True to form, a divided nation each blamed the other side for the tragic events from that day. Unlike past conflicts in the United States, however, there is no longer a need to wait for historians to set the record straight. Written accounts identifying right from wrong already existed on January 6, 2021, although the nation’s gain in the speed with which information disseminates is also the nation’s loss in the consistency, and possibly the accuracy, of this knowledge.
The overall descent by traditional and social media into anarchy may compromise the effectiveness of any established system when its own fourth branch portrays an executive administration as tyrannical, irrespective of its veracity. This is also the reason, in part, why as of COVID-19’s one year anniversary, it remains almost impossible for the nation to reach a consensus on the pandemic’s actual threat, a coordinated response, and the impact the past year will have on future decades. Such a landscape can cause solution and resolution to slow, which in turn only stokes the fires flaming the nation’s split.
Nationwide disagreement may always exist about the effectiveness in responding to COVID-19, including rhetoric of contemplated transgressions on the World Wide Web. This is the dark cloud that obfuscates the essence of the tragedy as well as its collateral damage, even as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predict an additional 1.1 to 2 million new COVID-19 cases in the U.S. during the week ending February 13, 2021. Planet Earth still shares a collective hope that the end of COVID-19 is just around the corner, even as nations clash over vaccine-related issues. The future date of the pandemic’s end is anyone’s guess, similar to a meteorologist opining on a tropical cyclone’s ultimate impact while taking measurements from inside the eye just as the storm tops the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale.
The Futility in Blame
Unfortunately, the end of COVID-19 still competes with a need to assess blame for the pandemic. Blame, unfortunately, cares less about truth and more about resolution, providing an opportunity to focus on a false sense of progress rather than solving the actual problem. Forced to remain on this path, society could easily blame Kobe Bean Bryant for COVID-19’s transition from epidemic to pandemic, as well as Article II, Section 1, Clauses 2 and 3 of the United States Constitution (the Electoral College) for its failure to contain COVID-19 or even formulate a meaningful strategy to do the same in a timely fashion.
Had the top 1996 high school basketball player in the United States, winner of five National Basketball Association championships, eighteen-time All-Star and two-time Olympic gold medalist not died in a helicopter crash on January 26, 2020, the nation may have kept its proverbial eye on that ball somewhere in the capital of Hubei Province in the People’s Republic of China. Nine months later, that same nation split between the reliability of an election process only a handful truly understand, shifting focus to the perceived attack on democracy, not to mention an actual attack on Congress. Between Election and Inauguration Day, COVID-19 exploded under the cover of voter veracity. Rooted in decades of bloodshed, the right to vote is sacrosanct and enjoyed by more than 150 million U.S. citizens.
Nevertheless, neither the spectacle of the election’s challenge nor the loss of Black Mamba are responsible for COVID-19’s evolution. In the end, if blame we must, society is to blame. Recently, an old foe known as fear resurfaced in a different way, this time hiding behind reports about new viral strains with greater risk of spread and death. At the same time, the nation’s largest vaccination distribution center in Chavez Ravine, California closed when those exercising their First Amendment right espouse the message that both COVID-19 and vaccine are a hoax.
The U.S. excels in championing causes, sometimes even without reason. This passion of the U.S., however misguided at times, comes as no surprise. Faced with perhaps its greatest challenge in the modern era, the U.S. is charged with protecting those at risk from COVID-19-related complications, a society on the brink of financial collapse, a generation of children now dependent upon Zoom for an education, and the sanity of all in between. What could go wrong?
Craig Garner is the founder of Garner Health Law Corporation, as well as a healthcare consultant specializing in issues pertaining to modern American healthcare. Craig is also an adjunct professor of law at Pepperdine University School of Law. He can be reached at email@example.com.