It has become a debate before the American people – to open or not to open? The lockdown has crippled the economy, businesses are dying, workers are losing their jobs and the government is running out of intervention funds. On the other hand, people are dying, more people are getting infected by coronavirus and hospitals are getting overwhelmed.
The debate hangs on these two situations. Those on each side of it have reasons to believe that it’s time to open the economy or extend the lockdown.
Over 24 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits since March, as more companies apply for a government bailout, meaning more workers are going to be laid off in coming weeks. They will struggle to pay their bills and live up to some other financial responsibilities – a nightmare many don’t want to have on a broad day.
On the other hand, over 800,000 Americans have tested positive for COVID-19, pushing toward the 1 million mark. Over 50,000 people have died, and the way it is going, many more are going to die in the coming weeks as the world searches for cure.
So to the American people, the choices before them are more like choosing between the Devil and the deep blue sea. And their choice depends on the side of the situation they find themselves in.
Last week, conservative backed protests erupted in some states against the lockdown. They were calling on the governments to lift the locks and allow people to go back to work. The US president Donald Trump who has been itching to open the economy amidst the escalating health crisis threw his weight behind the protesters. The economy needs to be open – but at what cost?
Doctors, nurses and medical staff took to the streets in a counter-protest that calls on the people to stay at home. It is a divided country fighting a mutual enemy, and each side of the divide is making huge sacrifices, though some are paying a higher price for the battle.
Everyone’s reason is genuine – if you don’t work how would you earn a living? But if you are not living, how would work?
Divided mostly through party lines, Republican led states like Georgia and Tennessee are calling for opening, stating that the lockdown is doing more harm than good. While Democratic led states like Virginia, Michigan and New York are more restrictive. In this tumultuous time of health crisis in the American history, everyone has got something to sacrifice; it’s just a question of – on what altar?
While the push to open the country garners momentum across Republican led states, health officials are concerned that the defiance will blow the pandemic into larger proportions and undermine the progress that has been made so far – and they are equally right.
The argument causing the divide.
The New York Times asked for opinions on the “to open or not” debate, and they pour in with different reasons that can’t be excused in entirety.
“I work at a hospital in the Fairfield County. People I see ignoring the guidelines on the news or in my travels have no idea of how bad the coronavirus is. Sometimes there is very little we can do to save these patients. Even the ones we send home from the E.R. are really sick and can take 2-3 weeks to recover. While the surge is diminishing there are still patients who are really slow to recover. I know everything seems fine wherever you look, but watch some hospital footage and listen to some registered nurse interviews, then decide if you want to skip the mask or congregate together,” said Sean Vigneau, from Fairfield, Connecticut.
One of the major concerns of lifting the lockdown is people forgetting that the world is in the middle of a pandemic and living life like it is 2019.
“Our much-less than enlightened mayor, who clearly drinks the Trump Kool-Aid daily, opened our beaches last Friday and earned national coverage. That has unwittingly given permission to folks to do horribly stupid things. The most egregious? I actually saw parents removing the yellow tape that the police had wrapped around the public park playground equipment – a playground that had signs on it saying that the equipment was not sanitized – and allowed their young children to play on it. I am so deeply angry that these shortsighted, selfish men are making decisions that put my health in danger, and that I have no control over it at all,” Lizanne Bomhard said from Jacksonville Beach, Florida.
People appear to be running out of patience, the government’s social programs seem not enough for them at home for a prolonged period of time – and some of them don’t like house arrest.
“I am a divorced single mother trying to live on disability insurance, child support and the under-the-table hustles I do while my daughter is at school. Well, they closed the schools so I can’t work! Now they will be closed all the rest of the year too? That is wrong! This is a form of house arrest and I did not do anything! I have been a “yellow dog Democrat” my whole life and I have voted in every election since I turned 18, but this time, on this issue, I have to say that I agree with the conservatives! I have the right to work and the government is taking it away! I can’t pay bills and already had to borrow from a friend for my car payment this month. We are hitting the food pantries and the pet food bank. If this doesn’t stop soon, my daughter and I will be homeless. It is just a fact of math. And right now, the math looks really bad,” Joyce Chandler, from Columbus, Ohio said.
From the young and old perspective, everyone has got a view that represents and at the same time contradicts a common view. The aged are worried about their freedom to play golf and enjoy the rest of what life has left for them. While the young are worried that their life could be cut short by this thing – and they will never live to grow old.
A crowd is gathering on the corridor of freedom, job security and the economy, and another crowd is gathering on the platform of health and life. In the fight for survival, these two factors are key. But the present predicament has made it a dilemma. As the push comes to shove, reality beckons with different strokes for different folks’ kind of situation, but in the end, there is a huge price to pay for the choices.