Politicization and aspects of American culture cause preventable COVID-19 deaths

Propaganda spread by former President Donald Trump and aspects of American culture result in preventable Covid-19 deaths in America during the Covid-19 pandemic. The politicization of masks and culturally valuing individual liberties over what is in the best interest of the public are major factors in America’s large number of COVID-19 deaths.


**Layering with intention…** *Double-masking to protect herself from more contagious variants of Covid-19 on March 17, Indian Valley Middle School student Cam Elwell has recently transitioned to more frequently wearing two masks instead of one. A recent study by the CDC found that wearing a surgical mask under a multilayered fabric mask greatly decreases the spread of particles from coughing and breathing to others.* *Arrowhead photo by Claudia Elwell*

Nation-wide disregard for following COVID-19 safety precautions in America during the Covid-19 pandemic fueled by former President Donald Trump and certain characteristics of American culture has caused, and continues to cause, preventable COVID-19 deaths.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the first cases of COVID-19 in America appeared in January 2020. As of late March 2021, over 30.2 million Americans have been infected by COVID-19 and about 548,000 have died from it, according to the New York Times.
In a study conducted by a Lancet Commission, it was found that 40 percent of COVID-19 deaths in America could have been prevented if Trump acted directly towards fighting COVID-19 by enacting a national protocol and not politicizing safety precautions, such as masks.
By continuously downplaying COVID-19 and first claiming that COVID-19 was a Democratic hoax (a hoax that was apparently a continuation of other failed Democratic hoaxes, such as the “impeachment hoax”) at a rally in South Carolina in February 2020, it comes by no surprise that COVID-19 became politicized as opposed to being recognized as a dangerous and fast-spreading virus that needs to be handled with the best interest of Americans’ health in mind.
When the CDC released the statement that in early April that they recommend people wear face masks to protect themselves and others from Covid-19, Trump’s response was, “You don’t have to do it. They suggested for a period of time, but this is voluntary. I don’t think I’m going to be doing it.”
During the 2020 Presidential Debate, Trump falsely claimed that the chief medical advisor to the president, Dr. Anthony Fauci, was not an advocate for masks to deter the public’s likeliness of masks.
“Masks are not good — then he changed his mind,” Trump claimed Fauci initially said.
When Democratic candidate Joe Biden rebutted this false claim by saying that masks save lives, Trump said, “Dr. Fauci said the opposite.”
Trump contorted this statement that Fauci made at the beginning of the pandemic.
According to Fauci, officials first said that people shouldn’t be wearing masks due to the risk of shortages. However, as he saw COVID-19 rapidly spreading from asymptomatic people, he strongly advised people to wear masks to prevent the spread.
Trump using the power that he had over his supporters to discredit the effectiveness of masks only did more harm to Americans as a whole.
When worn correctly and when made out of the tightly woven and fitted material, masks act as a protective barrier from Covid-19 virus particles.
Additionally, Trump’s false claims about Fauci’s stance on masks further endangered the public. This propaganda about a very influential and renowned health professional could have made Americans who aren’t Trump supporters question their trust in masks.
Masks protect the wearer from COVID-19, along with everyone else around them. Throughout this pandemic, we must prioritize wearing masks, especially with the appearance of new, more contagious strains of COVID-19.
It is also vital that, on an individual level, we choose to follow safety precautions. With mask mandates being lifted in states throughout the country, we’re left to make decisions to further protect ourselves and others, such as wearing a mask in public.
Aspects of American culture have also played into the severity of the number of COVID-19 deaths in America. Whether we are aware of it or not, according to Global Health Now, culture “frames our way of living, thinking, and interacting.”
American culture values individual freedoms over doing what is in the best interest of the public as a whole. This aspect of American culture becomes damaging when people refuse to wear masks correctly or not at all, disregard recommendations to avoid doing unnecessary activities in public places, ignore social distancing rules, among other COVID-19 safety precautions because they believe it infringes on their rights.
Many people have continuously struggled with mental health from the beginning of quarantine in March 2020 to now. It’s completely understandable that it can be hard to give up “normal” activities, such as hanging out often with friends and to have the feeling of missing out on life.
However, it’s important to look at the larger picture and to try to grasp how alarmingly COVID-19 impacts America. Hospitals are overwhelmed, small businesses struggle as COVID-19 continues to spread due to disregard of following safety precautions, and many people of different age groups who have been infected with COVID-19 are either currently suffering from having the virus, living with the long-term effects that the virus leaves behind, or have died.
Recognizing that simple actions such as wearing a mask over your nose or avoiding large crowds in public are only bringing more protection and good to yourself and others. Ignoring these safety recommendations endangers your’s and other’s health.
For example, smoking in public places is banned due to the risk of cancer from second-hand smoking. Driving under the influence is illegal due to the damage the driver could do to themselves and others. Is following COVID-19 safety precautions to prevent yourself and others from catching COVID-19 really that different?
With Americans starting to receive COVID-19 vaccines, collectively following COVID-19 safety precautions is key to preventing the spread of COVID-19 and eliminating COVID-19 to the point where America can enter into normalcy.
According to the CDC, they are still learning and understanding the impacts of the vaccines on the spread of COVID-19, how effective they are against different strains of COVID-19, and how long the vaccines are against the virus.
The CDC said that, even if you’re fully vaccinated, “You should keep taking precautions in public places like wearing a mask, staying 6 feet apart from others, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces until we know more.”
Taking extra precautions, such as double-masking (wearing a fabric mask over a surgical mask) are also effective ways of protecting yourself from new strains of COVID-19 that are found to be more contagious.
Many people just want that comforting sense of normality that the pandemic deprives us of.
Being responsible for our actions and following COVID-19 safety precautions is the best and most effective way to fight against COVID-19.