The United States has faced four major events of wide-spread devastation to the entire nation

Coronavirus photo courtesy CDC

Editorial is the opinion of Morgan Hill Life

Santa Clara County has lately seen a significant increase in COVID-19 cases. This number might be much lower than most metropolitan areas in California and across the county, but it is still worrisome.

The South Valley region, unfortunately, has the distinction of being a hot-spot of Bay Area cases, according to the Santa Clara County Public Health Department. Gilroy leads all other cities in the county with an infection rate of 1,178 confirmed coronavirus cases per 100,000 residents. San Jose comes in second with an infection rate of 730 cases per 100,000. Morgan Hill gets third place with an infection rate of 668. These are serious numbers, folks. And they might very well climb even higher if we fail to face the real dangers that COVID-19 presents. This crisis is not a hoax. It’s a threat to the future of America.

The United States has faced four major events of wide-spread devastation to the entire nation, the historian Jon Meacham noted on a news opinion show recently. The first was the Civil War that brought carnage upon the country in the fight between states on the moral issue of slavery. The second was the Great Depression that brought financial ruin and hopelessness to millions during the 1930s. The third followed immediately after with our nation’s entry in the war against fascism. The fourth, Meacham said, is happening right now. The COVID-19 crisis is killing hundreds of thousands of people in the United States and elsewhere and creating uncertainty in the future of our democracy as the economy crashes during a contentious election.

The difference with this event and the other three of our past is that the United States now lacks political leadership that demonstrates the courage and vision we need to effectively combat this crisis. That includes both major parties. And the lack of leadership is happening on both a state and national level because we are seeing few men and women elected to public office who are willing to set an example and do the right thing to save our nation during the pandemic.

Let’s start with the failure of leadership in Sacramento of Gov. Gavin Newsom. He bears much of the blame for the spike of COVID-19 cases in the Golden State during the past two months. At a point in mid-March where it was obvious the crisis would quickly spread throughout the population and bring death and misery to many Californians if left unchecked, he adopted the strategy of Bay Area health officials to control the spread of the coronavirus throughout the population. Yes, it was painful having to shut down many businesses such as restaurants, shops and salons and lose jobs and businesses. It was hard to force students overnight to start learning online as the public faced shelter-in-place protocols. But these actions saved lives. It meant managing the number of people infected so that the staff at hospitals were not overwhelmed by a deluge of patients.

Then the re-opening process began in mid-June. Newsom’s administration failed to provide clear guidelines to the counties. Business owners were confused. This fact was demonstrated by armed Alcohol Beverage Control officers coming into local restaurants July 3 and threatening to fine or shut them down for not following outdoor dining protocols from the state.

On a national scale, the efforts to combat COVID-19 have been even more haphazard. Every state in the union seems to have its own strategy for protecting public health. People are confused. There needs to be a national effort to deal with the pandemic. It is basic common sense for us as Americans to be united now and not divided by politics. We need to stop fighting and start uniting. We need leadership from both the Democratic and Republican parties that can overcome the stalemate during a contentious election year and bring civility and sanity back to effectively manage this crisis using science-based tactics.

Santa Clara County officials last month issued a statement to spotlight America’s failure on a federal level in dealing with the crisis. They stated: “We are concerned about the increase in cases nationally and believe that this highlights the need for a coordinated national approach to address this pandemic, something the President has failed to put into effect. We call upon the Trump Administration to finally implement the national strategy our nation needs to contain COVID-19.”

We need leadership from the top — President Trump and all members of both houses of Congress — to bring our nation’s people together in coordinated efforts to control the crisis. We need the vision and courage of leaders who will do the right thing despite the consequences to themselves or their parties. We need to put an end to the extreme bipartisan animus that has infected our politics like a virus.

The future of American democracy is at stake if we continue down this path of polarization. Let’s stop fighting and start uniting.

Morgan Hill Life Editorial
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