The fragile American consensus on battling the coronavirus is fracturing along bitter political fault lines, as early state openings threaten to undermine the nationwide effort to slow the pandemic.Divisions have emerged along a timeworn North vs. South divide, on ideological and geographical grounds nationally and within states, and on the level of respect accorded by political leaders to epidemiological science.The hope for a unified front is further undermined by a President heaping pressure on governors, supporting protests that flout social distancing and a White House that declined Tuesday to strongly stand up for its own guidelines on a safe reopening.
The result is a mess of mixed messages and conflicting logic on opening up that calls into doubt President Donald Trump’s claims he backs a “beautiful puzzle” of science-based returns to normality. It comes as anxiety that the pandemic is nowhere near over is being exacerbated by a warning from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention chief Robert Redfield that the pandemic could be much worse next winter.
The mishmash is likely to do little to instill confidence in a populace that polls show is mostly skeptical about emerging from their homes. And that confidence will be vital to triggering the economic rebound everybody wants.Trump, with a clear eye on his reelection prospects, keeps implying that normal life and a swift end to the terrible economic deprivation sparked by the virus are around the corner.”We are opening up America again. Twenty states representing 40% of the population have announced that they are making plans and preparations to safely restart their economies in the very near future,” the President said at the White House.”We can’t break our country over this. We have to get going,” he said, on a day when US Covid-19 deaths rose to more than 44,000.The widening divide was first provoked by Georgia’s aggressive move to revive businesses like nail and hair salons, bowling alleys and tattoo parlors on Friday, despite not yet achieving compliance with White House blueprints for when it is safe to open up.