The COVID-19 pandemic has been a weighty issue to deal with for every country across the globe. The responses by the people and their leaders have played a great role in the spread of the virus. The articles by Atul Gawande and Benjamin Wallace-Wells give the readers a glimpse into the American response to the pandemic and how it has resulted in millions getting infected, while hundreds of thousands have died due to the virus. Both writers show that the government and the people could have done a better job at taking care of themselves and others in society if they had taken the necessary precautionary measures in the first place.
Atul Gawande writes her article “Inside the Worst-Hit County in the Worst-hit State in the Worst-hit Country” from the viewpoint of the state leaders in North Dakota. Gawande's article gives a recollection of the responses of the people and their leaders. It also gives the reader a glimpse of the effects that these responses had on society in the long run. Gawande gives an account of how reluctant the citizens of North Dakota were to wearing masks and obeying the social distancing rules. The county leaders, however, chose to be at the forefront of protecting the community by implementing regulations about the wearing of masks and social distancing. In the beginning, these rules were received with great skepticism and defiance from the North Dakota residents. Many claimed that the coronavirus was a scam and that it was an elaborate plot by their local leaders and the government to deny the people their liberties to live life on their terms. However, as the number of infections and deaths continued to increase in the region and across America, the residents began to take the threat seriously. Most of them adhered to the rules and encouraged those around them to do the same.
“The Good, the Bad and the Embarrassing in America’s COVID-19 Response” is an article by Benjamin Wallace-Wells that compares America’s response to the pandemic to those of other countries. Wallace-Wells’s article gives the reader a brief overview of how America fell short in dealing with the pandemic when it first emerged. The author looks into the dismissive actions of the people and the government when it came to dealing with the virus. People refused to wear masks and adhere to the social-distancing rules set by those who knew about the virus and the devastating effects it would have. Wallace-Wells also shows how different the situation in America would have been if the people and the government had taken the same precautions as Asian countries like China. The author posits that giving the American people their freedom in a time of crisis, with the hope that they would do the right thing, was one of the big mistakes that the government made at the beginning of the pandemic. If the government had taken on a more authoritarian approach to the issue, as most Asian countries did, the rate of infection and the number of deaths would have been significantly lower and more contained, as opposed to the situation today.
Both Gawande and Wallace-Wells agree that the American people and the government could have handled the COVID-19 pandemic much better than they did. The dismissive and ignorant nature of most of the American leaders and the people was one of the reasons that the United States of America was one of the worst-hit countries in the world. The authors also cite the unwillingness of the leaders to go against the liberties of the people as another reason for the high numbers in North Dakota and the country. Despite the call for the people to wear masks and practice social distancing, very few of them adhered to these regulations since they viewed them as a limitation to their rights and liberties as American citizens.
The authors agree that the government’s choice to wait for the people to comply with the rules was one of the major mistakes that the U.S. made in the fight against the coronavirus. The leaders should have opted to enforce stricter rules and penalties on the people if they intended to control the issue from the very beginning. Taking a more active role in the fight against the pandemic would not have made the leaders popular, but it would have helped to reduce the number of infections and deaths that the country has recorded in the past year.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our way of living. When it first began, the American people were cynical about it and attributed the numbers and evidence provided as being a hoax that the government had come up with to deny them their liberties. However, months later, it is clear that the pandemic is real, and its effects are being felt all across the globe. If the American government had taken more elaborate measures to contain the infection right from the start, I believe that the numbers would have been significantly lower. The biggest mistake that the government made in dealing with the pandemic was to believe that the people would do the right thing voluntarily. While those opposed to the wearing of masks would claim that the people have a right to choose whether or not to wear one, it is important to note that one's choice to disobey this rule tends to affect everyone else around him/her.
The articles by Gawande and Wallace-Wells help to shed light on the failure of the American government and the people in the handling of the pandemic. The authors show that the government could have done a lot more to protect the people, reduce the rate of infection and minimize the number of deaths. However, despite the mistakes made, the country can use this pandemic to learn how to handle future issues and ensure that the effects are kept to a minimum.
Gawande, Atul. "Inside the Worst-Hit County in the Worst-hit State in the Worst-hit Country." 8 Feb. 2021.
Wallace-Wells, Benjamin. "The Good, the Bad and the Embarrassing in America’s COVID-19 Response Were Americans too unruly, or did elected officials expect too little of them?" The Political Scene, 25 Feb. 2021.
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