By Natalie Leung
It is evident that we are in the midst of a second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, with the Wall Street Journal reporting that the U.S. daily cases have topped over 221,000, the second highest number since the pandemic began. Although the initial lockdown was successful in flattening the curve, that effect did not last long. Over the past few months, we’ve witnessed several premature openings and a lack of enforcement in response to Covid-regulation. However, seeing that we’re headed straight into a second quarantine, we all have a chance to do things differently this time around.
A big problem with the first lockdown was the lack of universality between the states and their regulations for the pandemic. Democratic states such as New Jersey, New York, and California had mask mandates and opened up much slower and carefully than Republican states Florida and Texas. As a result, the politicalization of masks and an unnecessary divide over adherence to protocol in our country has harmed our ability to overcome this virus. This polarization we’ve seen from the government has led the country to automatically assume one’s political affiliation based on whether they have a mask on or not. But what do masks have to do with politics? To put it simply, Covid is a public health issue, not a political issue.Whether there are correlations between a state’s major political party and Covid case figures or not, using the pandemic as a dividing force rather than treating it as the serious and eye-opening situation it is might be more harmful than helpful. Evidently, there are areas where virus cases have subsided, but for the majority of the United States, the first step is putting politics aside and initiating a national mask mandate that would help curb the rise in cases substantially.
To continue, although many families stayed inside, Upserve.com reported that, “from February to April there was a 169% increase in the number of restaurants actively using Online Ordering with Upserve […] paired with an 840% increase in weekly sales via online ordering.” The Covid-19 pandemic has visibly caused the amount of takeout ordered and online purchases made per week go up exponentially. While people were doing their part to stay safe, it may have not occurred to them that workers are continually putting themselves in danger by showing up to their jobs. I would urge others to limit the amount of takeout they order per week in quarantine, and to instead take this time to learn how to cook your favorite meals! Alternatively, it’s crucial that we support businesses that are truly doing what is in the best interest of their employees; those who are following the right protocols and supporting their workers financially and mentally. As consumers, we hold the power to directly influence public health and hold businesses accountable for their actions. So, think about in what ways you as a consumer, can positively benefit the health of essential workers and push for change in your community.
The same goes for unessential online purchases. I’ll admit, I too have a love for impulsive online shopping sprees to keep myself occupied during quarantine. Nonetheless, we must be cautious of the amount of online purchases we make per week. The amount of orders we are sending to places like Amazon, for example, where essential workers work tirelessly for hours to deliver packages to those of us at home, is getting out of hand. My advice? Support small businesses and “mom and pop” stores, as well as businesses that are taking the correct precautions to keep their workers safe. Essential and frontline workers are undeniable heroes, and while the population with the privilege of staying home acknowledge this, it often slips our minds that our purchases from home still affect workers who aren’t employed with big-name corporations that aren’t dramatically impacted by the national lockdown.
As the second wave approaches, I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on the course of action I’d like to see the government enforce and the people to follow. I think there should be a strict four to six week shutdown, mostly in urban cities and areas with large amounts of new and rising cases. Additionally, our goal should be to put public health first, over everything else. Hopefully, with the new science and general information we have gathered through these past eight months, we can flatten the curve and stop the second wave in its tracks.
With the newly-developed vaccine being gradually distributed across the country, it seems like we are approaching the light at the end of the tunnel. Regardless, as members of the American public, we must take the reality of this virus just as serious, if not more, than the last quarantine while also being more conscious of the health of essential and front line workers. Think about it, we have already been through one quarantine. By now most of us have assimilated to the “new normal” enough to know how to double down and do our part in the control of public health. Still, we need to limit our own purchasing of superficial and unnecessary items, and instead shop for essentials. We need a national mask mandate to keep our communities safe. We need to remain patient and remain respectful as the vaccine does its work. But most importantly, we must come together as Americans to do what is best for the collective—not what is best for the individual.