COVID-19 has affected all of our lives in one way or another. We have been taken out of school and stuck at home. Our home lives have changed; many of our parents work from home, assuming they could keep their jobs. There have been over 1.16 million deaths from the virus worldwide, and of those 1.6 million, 225,000 are from the United States. The United States prides itself on being the best country in the world: a land where opportunities are plentiful and the ‘American dream’ is attainable. What happens when the “greatest country” in the world is hit with a pandemic— one of the worst in modern history— under the leadership of President Donald Trump?

There is no secret that President Trump has had difficulties with telling the truth and sticking to one story in the past. However, one would think that when millions of American lives are at stake and thousands have already been lost, he would take the pandemic seriously. That is, unfortunately, false. Schools must still teach remotely, employed Americans must still work from home, and essential workers’ lives are put at risk every day. President Trump, however, still claims that this virus will be over in no time. His sense of time is undoubtedly skewed from several press conferences that have shown this. On January 22nd, 2020, Trump said, “We have it totally under control. It is one person coming in from China. It is going to be just fine.” On February 26th, Trump stated that “This is the flu. This is like the flu.” We have now later found out during a leaked portion of Trump’s interview with Bob Woodward that on February 7th, he said, “It is also more deadly than even your strenuous flu… This is deadly stuff.” How are Americans supposed to overcome this storm when they have a leader who refuses to accept the reality of the virus?

American residents have now relied on state officials, such as governors and mayors, to enact regulations to promote public safety. Many state leaders have successfully minimized the pandemic’s effects, but there is only so much they can do. They are not the president; they cannot enforce laws that apply to the whole country. Furthermore, unfortunately for those who live in states led by governors who believe strongly in the Trump administration’s capabilities in handling the pandemic, life as they know it seems to have been permanently altered.

It has become abundantly clear that leadership is an important factor. Nations such as New Zealand have managed to keep cases close to zero, while citizens can still maintain their valued levels of freedom. The concerns of many members of Trump’s administration are irrelevant when it comes to the American public’s safety, especially considering the fact that other countries’ leaders are actually taking charge. Unlike in this country, children in Denmark can go back to school without fearing for their safety and health. Their schools are not getting shut down every week because someone on campus contracts COVID-19. 

One thing that is just as important as good leadership is unity during times like these. The United States is an incredibly individualistic country and takes no shame in it. Nevertheless, when faced with a pandemic that impacts everyone, this sense of individualism can be a fatal flaw. Americans cannot continue to only think about themselves; they have to think about the bigger picture. One sees the nation’s true colors when the pandemic made billionaires of the United States 637 billion dollars richer, while in April, the unemployment rate was 14.4%. In a country where essential healthcare has become a topic of controversy and a political statement, a pandemic like COVID-19 can be a wake up call for change. 

Not surprisingly, like many other things, the United States keeps hitting the snooze button. The presidential race, which has been very much centered around COVID-19, is drawing to a close in the coming week. In an election where one president has a clear-cut plan for managing this pandemic, and the other candidate has had no plan for the past eight months, the hope for Americans to join together to fight COVID-19 is nearly, if not already, gone.