Opinion | Coronavirus outbreak a matter of public health, not politics

By Alice Lee, Senior Columnist

The coronavirus outbreak has been an alarming topic of conversation since the beginning of this year, but it is even more alarming that politicians are attempting to politicize it. Like other illnesses, COVID-19 doesn’t discriminate based on partisan affiliations. But as contradictory information arises from the Trump administration and public health officials, this crisis has unwittingly become a political battle.

In addressing the looming threat to American citizens, President Trump downplayed the severity of the situation and accused the Democratic Party of exaggerating its danger. Trump and his supporters are adamant in minimizing the threat of the virus and argue the news media is fanning fears as a tactic to bring him down. 

The Trump administration is severely mistaken.

Numerous counties across the nation have reported a state of emergency concerning the outbreak, and the global death toll has risen to over three thousand people. The stock market suffered its worst week since the financial crisis in 2008. A top Centers for Disease Control and Prevention official informed Congress the coronavirus would likely be deemed a global pandemic. 

The threat is not exaggerated. The danger is not a ploy to tarnish Trump’s reputation. The threat is real, and it is a public health concern that politics should stay out of. 

This is not to say everyone should panic and lose all hope, but it’s essential to recognize the danger of the virus to best prepare in the case of an outbreak in the United States. 

During a public health emergency, it is incredibly crucial for people to stay vigilant and informed about the ongoing crisis. This becomes difficult to do when fear and misinformation are being used as political tools in a partisan battle for control. Winning political points or support should not overshadow the pertinence in containing the coronavirus outbreak. 

The government should be wary in encouraging people to believe in false security when the threat the coronavirus poses is so serious and imminent. The last thing we want is for people to stick their heads in the sand and remain there until it’s too late. Precautionary measures should be taken, and they should be taken seriously. 

The voices of public health experts are being drowned out by the loud arguing of politicians when public health voices are the ones that matter most. Now, more than anything, the American public needs a thorough and elaborate response to combat the threat. Taking action against the coronavirus needs to be at the forefront of everyone’s minds, not political gain. 

America is fortunate to have world-class professionals and medical experts, leading this fight against the coronavirus. Politicians need to stand back and let them do what they do best. When it comes to science or politics, there is no question the side we all need to be on is the one focused on saving lives.

Alice is a sophomore in LAS.

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