Our country faces two pandemics. The first is COVID-19, and I am confident it will be defeated with scientists around the world searching for solutions and leaders like Governor Mills basing their decisions on facts.
The second pandemic is one of misinformation; I’m not confident we know how to deal with that. In the past 40 years it has grown rapidly, moving from the fringes to the mainstream. Until now we have the person with the loudest voice, our President, pushing incorrect medical advice, “alternative facts” and conspiracy theories. Even The Ellsworth American is not immune, with a recent example the commentary by Phil Grant [“Governors made a big mistake,” April 30].
Sadly, his message is repeated often on right-wing media: Don’t listen to the advice of national health experts; it’s no worse than other recent viruses. Your government and the media are wrong. It’s all a left-wing conspiracy to swing the election and destroy capitalism. A Jewish philanthropist is directing government leaders around the world to shut down their economies, etc.
Every day you can see this anti-science/anti-government/anti-expertise rhetoric becoming louder. For example, people defying CDC-based government restrictions needed to control the spread, encouraged by our President. And even people at the highest levels of state and federal government believing that wearing face masks is either un-American or weak, thereby putting the leadership of our country at risk.
In two months we have lost over 80,000 Americans and counting, and there is no plan to end the growth. 80,000! Trump’s re-election apparently is now more important than saving lives, so the COVID-19 Task Force has been directed to focus on restarting the economy by the fall, whether we are ready to or not. Since many states relaxing rules aren’t ready, the virus will flare up again; it’s as contagious as ever.
Economists know that people come first; we can’t have a healthy economy without healthy people. And we can’t have a healthy nation when facts and expertise don’t matter.