By Alex Berkman
These are the statistics as of April 18, 2020: 2,083,304 cases in the world, 134,616 deaths; 644,089 cases in the United States, 28,529 deaths; 213,779 cases in New York, 11,586 deaths. The numbers are appalling, and yet the fight is only beginning. So now, the question is, how will we respond? Will the American people unite and act in a bipartisan manner? Or will we forget what the real enemy of this fight is and deflect towards making enemies out of one another?
Initially, the American response to the coronavirus was divided, with the media having a particularly strong influence over peoples’ opinions. Specifically, CNN, a news network that primarily attracts Democratic party members, warned the American people early on of the potential spread. Some of the beginning headlines in February read the following: “Wuhan coronavirus deaths spike again as outbreak shows no signs of slowing,” “SARS didn’t sink markets, but coronavirus might,” “The coronavirus is already hurting the world economy. Here’s why it could get really scary.” Meanwhile, news stations such as Fox News that generally target Conservative viewers downplayed the threat that coronavirus posed: According to Jeanine Pirro of Fox News, “All the talk about coronavirus being so much more deadly [than the flu] doesn’t reflect reality.” “If I get it (coronavirus), I’ll beat it. I am not afraid of the coronavirus and no one else should be that afraid either,” said Jesse Watters, a political commentator for Fox News. Fox News anchor Timi Lahren even had this to say on March 10: “I am far more concerned with stepping on a used heroin needle than I am about getting the coronavirus.” I think you get the point.
As these differing viewpoints regarding the coronavirus continued to heighten, so did the hostility between the two parties. On April 7, when President Trump expressed his desire to serve as a “cheerleader” for the American people, he was met with immediate backlash from CNN anchor Chris Cuomo who called it “the most asinine statement of leadership I have ever heard.” Days later, Fox News published an article responding to CNN’s criticism of the president, in which the first line read “CNN’s most prominent anchors and reporters have ratcheted up their attacks against President Trump during the coronavirus outbreak as the liberal network continues to blur the lines between straight news and opinion journalism.” And this is just one example of the ongoing back and forth between democrats and republicans.
While it may appear that I am being partial to the left, the truth is: both sides (left and right) are to blame for the lack of cohesion in American society. If we could all fully cooperate with one another in a bipartisan manner, the future would certainly look more promising. As human beings, we intrinsically all have our own opinions and beliefs. However, it is more important now than ever that the American people can work together to meet common ground. It truly is incredible how much more effectively we could combat the coronavirus if we all paid more focus to ending this pandemic rather than pointing fingers.
Regardless of what has been said in the past, it can not derail us from understanding what is most important in the present, during these trying times. The past is the past; and there is nothing to gain from bickering over what could have been. There is nothing to gain from the continued fighting between one another or by picking sides. Yet, we can gain from practicing social distancing, listening to the experts, and doing whatever we can do to keep ourselves safe. Because that is what is most important.