Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) broke out in Wuhan, China late November 2019. COVID-19 is caused by the SARS-CoV-2. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared coronavirus a pandemic on 11th March 2020. WHO’s announcement increased the sense of alarm in the following months over a new, lethal virus swiftly spreading globally.
A poll by Axios-Ipsos earlier this year found that more than 60% of Americans believed that the response of the federal government to the pandemic did not help. They said that it actually worsened the situation.
It is hard to blame the respondents for their pessimism. Reviewing the actions taken by the local, state, and federal lawmakers over the pandemic period illuminates a chain of missteps that resulted in an increased death toll, resulting in unwanted consequences still plaguing Americans.
The following is a review of some of the biggest government failures during the pandemic crisis.
Preventing the spread of the virus is virtually impossible. Therefore, the situation where some people would become ill was unavoidable. An article by Washington Examiner argued that the only immediate solution was mitigation. This solution demands direct and clear communication and information.
The Americans never got this solution.
Instead, what they got was a delayed recommendation by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) regarding the wearing of masks. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director, had backed up this advice. He said that there was no need for people to wear masks, as Forbes reports.
CDC officials, as well as Fauci, later said that their advice was aimed at preventing hoarding of supplies and said that masks should be used in mitigating the virus spread. This was not the only misinformation. According to BBC News, President Trump had even indicated that disinfectants or ultraviolet rays of light might be a cure.
Americans had also been told that flattening the curve would only take 14 days. However, the 14 days became indefinite lockdowns. This left many Americans unemployed and unable to buy basic necessities and pay their bills.
The medical community would have been better prepared if the government did not suppress the information about the virus. According to The Washington Post, the world leaders had been briefed about the pandemic in January 2020. This means that the US had two months of preparation to fight the pandemic. This was adequate time to prepare for hospital overflows, increasing ventilators and protective wear production, and coordinating and developing testing methods. Instead, the government spent the period downplaying the disease, preventing industries from obtaining valuable market signals to spur them into action.
Regulations Blocking Use of Overflow Hospitals in New York City
In March and April 2020, New York City was losing almost 800 patients to coronavirus every day. It is the initial epicenter of the outbreak in the country. Many people were sent to hotels where they died without care, according to reports by the New York Times. The city responded by spending $52 million to set up overflow hospitals which only saw 79 patients. The reason was that the city gave ambulance providers exclusive contracts with public hospitals, and so these providers only took the patient to their contracted facility.
Blocking Free Market Testing
As if failure to communicate the oncoming need for testing in January last year was not enough, it worked actively to block the processing and development of tests by private facilities. Regulatory roadblocks were enacted by Department of Health and Human Services agencies, preventing non-government laboratories from aiding with testing. This was after the CDC took weeks to develop a flawed test. Hence, the government wasted valuable time where targeted resources and widespread testing could have limited the spread of the virus.
According to the FEE Organization, Moderna developed a vaccine against coronavirus within two days after Chinese scientists published its genetic code. This shows that the coronavirus vaccine has been available since January of 2020. However, Americans were denied its access. FDA (Food and Drug Administration) prohibited accelerated challenge product trials where vaccinated people are exposed to the virus in a lab to determine its effectiveness.
The consequences were hundreds of thousands of deaths as America waited for almost a whole year to wait for the approval. The FDA later made the vaccine accessible, referring to it as being highly effective. The US also blocked the usage of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine that has been used successfully in other nations.
FEE Organization wrote that plenteous research indicated that lockdowns are not effective in preventing deaths. The appropriate measures to curb the virus spread include ventilation of public spaces and social distancing. Businesses, with proper communication, would have been able to implement reasonable measures.
However, in many states, public officials went ahead to use aggressive, unconstitutional measures, forcing economic closure. They also separated families, pushed kids from schools, and prevented playing outside or taking walks. The ramifications became worse than the virus. The suicide rates coincided with a loneliness epidemic, resulting in more deaths. Domestic violence and food instability also increased.
Government harms people, even when it has pure intentions. It can be argued that many politicians wanted to prevent despair and death in the country over the pandemic period. However, their pride and arrogance, plus blind faith in central planning, worsened the pandemic even more.
The same policies and regulations that caused mass devastation over the pandemic period also create small-scale devastation on a day-to-day basis. They make healthcare more costly and hinder access to life-saving treatments.
If there is a lesson to be learned from all this, it is that the government cannot protect its citizens from the harsh life realities, and it cannot do a good job looking out for the best interests of its citizens or providing for their needs. The government, regardless of its size, cannot successfully protect its citizens from the numerous threats of the world. All it can do is guarding the citizens’ liberties and allow them the freedom they require to shield themselves and innovate. America tried the big government route and failed miserably.