Canada, COVID, and the US
On August 17th, we were fortunate enough to appear as guests on the Minor Issues Podcast. Hosted by Lilley Halloran, this news podcast helps to spread information on a variety of topics concerning the US and other countries. In this episode, we came together as two Canadians and an American to discuss the relationship between our two countries, and their responses to the current pandemic. During this thoughtful and engaging discussion, we asked Lilley about quarantine in the USA, and her thoughts on how the government has handled COVID-19. Here is her response.
Mia and Siobhan
Do you think America has handled the virus as best as they could have? What do you think should have been done differently?
“No, I do not. No I personally do not and I think honestly it's frankly kind of embarrassing to see how America has treated the virus and I know that a lot of America is treating it with like, treating it like it exists and taking it very seriously and strictly. But I also think a lot of America is being very careful about the virus and I think that the problem in America is that it was not acknowledged from the beginning. Our leaders spent months, you know denying the virus’ seriousness and acting like honestly it didn't exist and so I think the virus grew out of control very quickly and there was a lockdown in March around March 13 which is really good. I was glad to see that you know the entire country was locked down, but not long after that the lockdown was lifted and we saw that cases were going [up] and so I think that you know that lockdown was lifted at the wrong time and we could've changed that. We could've dramatically shifted the way we treated this virus if we had of kept on lockdown. But honestly, there’s nothing we can do about that now since that was a long time ago. Yeah I think the problem in America is that, I know I said this before but, it was really politicized so it was not seen as a bipartisan issue. So if you were generally like if you were a liberal, you had to be treating the virus as if it existed, and if you were conservative, you know, you could do whatever you want, and that's not universal but I think that's how the virus got out of control. It became this like war between different political parties, yeah but I think there are definitely things that we could do to treat it better but we have not handled it so far very well. Yeah.”
Why do you think President Donald Trump has only just embraced the idea of masks recently? Do you think he will follow this pattern and soon implement stricter guidelines as cases continue to rise?
“I think very much the virus was politicized in America from the very beginning. And so masks were very politicized because of that and Trump saw it as his personal agenda and his agenda from his political party that masks should not be required. He was seen in public not wearing masks, which he didn't think was a big problem and he tried to, honestly, convince a lot of people that COVID wasn’t really a big deal and that it was fake. So, part of the reason why America has not had a strict response to it is because our president and a lot of high-up leaders in America have not taken it seriously. I think that he personally is not going to be the one to implement stricter guidelines because he has been saying that the virus will go away and that everything is under control, so it would almost be like him accepting defeat if he decided to implement these guidelines. And, he also applauds our governors who don’t implement stricter guidelines. So I think that it’s definitely possible that someone will help to push higher/stricter guidelines such as Fauci who’s directing this coronavirus, like fighting coronavirus. But I don’t think he will do it on his own accord. He might do it if everyone is pushing him to do it, but I don’t think he’d do it by himself.
My group of people, my family, my friends, my community has definitely taken this virus seriously. But I know people who are treating it much more leniently and not taking it as seriously, and that’s something that’s hard for me to cope with just because a lot of America is taking this virus very leniently. As an American, I can see that these people are painting a very different image from what a lot of people believe. So, I know that a lot of people are treating the virus very carefully, but America is being seen as this country that is not taking the virus seriously and that's hard because I know that a lot of us want to treat it and fix this, you know, pandemic. But it’s hard because a lot of people aren’t on the same page.”
How about the USA? What guidelines have Americans been asked to follow?
“So the US centre for base control has released suggestions and a lot of info on the virus and basic stuff like you know to stay 6 feet away from people and don't go out if you need to quarantine if you show symptoms, wear a mask. We did have a stimulus package back in March but it wasn’t very comprehensive. It gave people a certain amount of money depending on how large your family was but that was one time, it was a one-time thing, so it's like $1000. $2000 is all the money that has been given out since and nothing is really required nationally as far as treating the virus. Guidelines are really up to the states and their governors. So some governors are requiring masks in their states and others aren’t requiring masks and also it’s up to the cities too so cities get to decide how businesses operate and how many people can be in your restaurant and if you have to wear a mask. I think the problem is in America, there’s not a lot of enforcement on that. People aren't being taken out of stores if they're not wearing a mask or if they’re wearing a mask improperly, so that's the biggest problem in America. People are not enforcing these guidelines that are put in place. Also like the financial treatment of everything, there was a moratorium on evictions so people couldn't be evicted for a while, but that has pretty much ended now. So, people who have been laid off from their jobs, who can’t work. or don’t have the financial capacity to pay rent are being evicted right now. People are predicting a really large wave of evictions and so a lot of America is going to be homeless in the next couple of months. That is, unless people are given the financial support to pay rent or if they stop evictions, and I think that's a really big issue right now. We are not addressing the people who can’t financially pay for these things that they need like shelter and food because they haven't sent out enough money for these people. It’s really rough, and I’m not trying to be really critical of America, like I know that a lot of people are handling it the best they can, but it's like become a war between our government and some people want a lot of benefits for people and some want very little benefits, so it's a war between, you know, how can we help the people but not put our country in a lot of debt, and that's the biggest debate right now.”
Do you see tourism and live arts returning to North America once we are able to flatten the curve? What do you think it will look like?
“Yes, I definitely do. All of the world, especially in the US and Canada, we’ve spent so much time at home. And so I expect that as soon as things are safer, there will be a large boom in tourism and live arts. I do think that it will be different, just because I don’t think anything will be the same after this pandemic. The director of our task force, his name is Fauci, and he said that we should expect to wear masks for like, all of the future basically. So I expect that tourism and live arts will see some sort of changes, like everyone is wearing masks, but I think there will definitely be a large boom in this industry after things are safer.”
What do you think the future will hold for the US in terms of how the public will act? I feel like during this pandemic the US has been notorious for groups of Americans not taking necessary precautions to keep themselves and others safe, so how will this look in the upcoming fall?
“That's a really good question I think right now in America we’re at a really critical standpoint, where we have the option to decide how we're going to fight this virus and how we're going to treat it, I think, you know with everyone going back to school and returning to work and stuff, we have the option to you know decide how we can treat this virus with respect and treat it like it really exists but we could also go the wrong way in America and continue to do what we have already been doing. So, there was this one school that returned in Georgia, everyone went back to school, and 38 students and 12 teachers tested positive for Covid that day and they’ve been asking 900+ students to quarantine and so I think that's a really good example of how you know America is treating it right now but I think it also showed a lot of people how you know how fragile this community is right now and how this virus is running rampant and so I think I have a lot of hope that we can you know suddenly change our mindset but I think it also depends a lot on our leadership and so you know in America we need to decide not to politicize this we need to try to treat this virus with respect and I hope that, you know, will see in the future that America is now controlling this virus but I think, and I'm not trying to sound pessimistic, I think that really involves you know changing our mindset very quickly and deciding to enforce this virus and deciding to work together across political parties so that you know we're not at war just with the virus when we don't need to be at war with ourselves we need to be at war against the virus.”
Lilley Halloran, a junior in high school, started her own newspaper when she was 8 and has been a journalist ever since! Lilley is very passionate about sharing information and ideas so she can continue to educate the public and raise awareness about global issues. When she's not working on the podcast, Lilley loves hanging out with friends and family, playing the guitar, and listening to music (and other podcasts!).
Be sure to check out the featured episode “Canada, COVID, and the US” from the Minor Issues Podcast on available streaming platforms, or click the link below!