This article was originally published on the Lamar University Press website.
Pandemics are inevitable. History has proven that time and time again. People like Bill Gates may have predicted a pandemic like the coronavirus, but it’s easy to see that our nation’s leaders were unprepared for COVID-19.
Within a matter of weeks, the United States (like the rest of the world) has gone from “business as usual” to a land of quarantined, unemployed, restless and sometimes careless people. It’s times like this that we look to our leaders for guidance and relief.
Some state leaders like New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and California Governor Gavin Newsom have been vigilant in shutting down public gathering spaces and putting stay-at-home orders in effect.
Then there’s Texas. Gov. Greg Abbott delayed a disaster declaration and delayed closing down restaurants, bars and other public gathering spaces — putting potentially millions of people at risk.
Texas has the highest rate of uninsured people in the country, according to healthaffairs.org, meaning that a lot of people cannot afford to get sick. Abbott has also opposed paid sick-leave ordinances, according to The Texas Tribune.
Monday night, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick suggested that he’d rather die than see the economy fail after President Donald Trump suggested that people would be able to return to “normal life” after just 15 days. Fifteen days!
The president did not say this to comfort Americans — he said it to appease corporate America.
In Texas alone, only about 10,000 people have been tested for the virus, according to Texas Monthly. Ten thousand out of 35 million people have been tested, and the president is saying that we need to return to work?
Here’s the thing — the president, senators, representatives, governors, etc. will be taken care of. They belong to the federal health care system and could get a test for themselves or their families whenever they needed it, as well as the subsequent care to treat the virus. They don’t have to worry about missing out on paychecks — they’ll be fine. The average American won’t be.
It’s disgusting that some of our elected officials are prioritizing the economy over the lives of their own constituents. If sacrificing “a couple of lives” is worth it to save “the American way,” then why don’t they offer themselves?
Average workers are what keep America going — not corporate executives or celebrities. That has been more than apparent these past few weeks. Think about your local grocery store cashier. Do you think they want to be putting themselves at risk? They have to in order to live.
The economy will survive — it always does. The worst of the coronavirus is yet to come for America. We need to wait it out.
Our government should be thinking about what’s best for us, not what’s best for businesses.
Olivia Malick, UP editor