COVID-19 a major election issue in US

Published August 10, 2020, 10:24 PM

by Manila Bulletin

It is personal contact that promotes the transmission of the COVID-19 virus and with the easing of restrictions on social distancing and the rising mobility in most  of the  50 states of the United States,  the Institute for  Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) of the University of Washington in Seattle  came out Friday with this forecast:

There will be nearly more 135,000 deaths in the US beginning  in August  due to the growing contacts among people,  along with  increases in testing and contact tracing, and warming seasonal temperatures. Among  the  individual  states,  the  IHME forecast 3,632 deaths for Texas, 4,913 for Georgia, and 32,132 for   New York.

On the same day, Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore  which has been issuing daily reports of infections and  deaths  put US deaths at 159,841 and infections at 4,867,916.  Johns Hopkins’ tally  for the entire world  that day was 710,564 deaths and 18,912,947 infections. 

The COVID-pandemic has become a major election issue in the US.  With the presidential election set for Tuesday, November 3,  Trump  is pushing for  the states to  lift restrictions, for businesses to  reopen, and schools  to begin the school year.  National  and state  health officials, however, have expressed  concern about  schools  reopening  at this time when the COVID-19 pandemic continues to  surge in most of the country.

Media  giants  Facebook  and Twitter  took action against President Trump  for claiming in  a video   that children should be  safe when they return to their  classrooms  because they are  “almost immune” to the  coronavirus.

President Trump is hoping for the  early  development  of a  vaccine  by the US firm  Pfizer with German biotech  group  BioNTech.  It  should  be ready by election time, he said, although  Pfizer  is still holding tests  with  results expected only in  December.

We must  be glad that  we have no elections  this  year in the Philippines. Otherwise,  we  would  be having the same kind of problems as in the US where  election issues are muddling  government  plans against the virus. 

In the Philippines,  the  old Modified  Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ)  restrictions are back because cases  increased during the  General  Community Quarantine  (GCQ) that ended  July 31. We now have  more  cases  than  Indonesia,  China, Singapore,  Japan, Australia, South Korea, and Malaysia  in the  Western  Pacific region.

The US on the other side of the globe  continues to  draw  our  attention  in this season of the pandemic. Some  5 million Filipinos live there today.  We should be learning from its current experiences  with  COVID-19 and  its interaction with that nation’s politics, especially since it is now the epicenter of the pandemic.