Hello. Welcome to On Politics, your guide to the day in national politics. I am Lisa Lerer, your host.
I've been thinking a lot lately about how inconsistent this pandemic feels.
As a rule, national crises bring the country together in a moment of common sacrifice.
That doesn't seem to be happening now. Republican-led states like Georgia and Tennessee are pushing for earlier reopening as states with democratic governors such as Michigan, Virginia and New York maintain more restrictive home-stay instructions. Surveys, which are always a lagging indicator of public opinion, reflect this schism: two out of five Republicans across the country are now saying that the restrictions do more harm than good, an increase from last month.
The reality, of course, is that pandemics are harmful things. Germs are not interested in national borders, especially in a country where people can travel far.
But that's not how the disease is currently lived in America.
In South Dakota, car race organizers expect hundreds of people to attend events this weekend. At the same time, families in New York are preparing for a bleak summer in which pools and camps are already closed.
These are two radically different approaches to an international problem.
We wanted to know how you feel about the weeks of domestic life and whether you think it is time to open up.
Hundreds of you wrote to us. Most agreed to keep some, if not all, of the current restrictions. But a minority disagreed and raised concerns about everything from economic to mental health problems.
As always, the answers were edited and compressed. Here's what you told us:
Remember the rescue workers
I work in a hospital in Fairfield County. People I see ignoring the guidelines in the news or on my trips have no idea how bad the corona virus is. Sometimes there is very little we can do to save these patients. Even those we send home from E.R. are really sick and it can take 2-3 weeks for them to recover. As the increase decreases, there are still patients who are slow to recover. I know everything seems to be fine wherever you look, but watch hospital admissions and listen to interviews with registered nurses. Then decide whether you want to skip the mask or gather.
– Sean Vigneau, Fairfield, Connecticut
If you give them an inch …
Our much less enlightened mayor, who clearly drinks Trump Kool-Aid every day, opened our beaches last Friday and received national coverage. That unwittingly gave people permission to do terribly stupid things. The most outrageous? I actually saw parents remove the yellow tape that the police had wrapped around the public park playground equipment – a playground with signs that said the equipment was not redeveloped – and allowed their young children to play on it! I am so angry that these short-sighted, selfish men make decisions that endanger my health and that I have no control at all.
– Lizanne Bomhard, Jacksonville Beach, Florida.
"A form of house arrest"
I am a divorced single mother trying to make a living from disability insurance, child benefit and the hustle and bustle under the table that I do while my daughter is at school. Well, they closed the schools so I can't work! Now will they be closed the rest of the year? That is wrong! This is a form of house arrest and I haven't done anything! I've been a "yellow dog democrat" all my life and I've voted in every election since I was 18, but this time I have to say that I agree with the conservatives! I have a right to work and the government is taking it away! I can't pay my bills and already had to borrow from a friend for my car payment this month. We meet the pantries and the pet food bank. If this doesn't stop soon, my daughter and I will become homeless. It's just a fact of math. And at the moment the math looks really bad.
– Joyce Chandler, Columbus, Ohio
The 80-year perspective …
Although I really miss my game of golf, I think the economy shouldn't be reopened until we get a vaccine or adequate testing and tracking system. I would like to say that it is easy for me to feel that way since I am 80 years old, retired, collecting social security and being with Medicare. I'm sure if I was 25 I would feel different. Except for golf or restaurants, life has been pretty normal so far. Difficult entry into Costco, except on older days: Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m.
– Cliff Shepard, Camarillo, California.
… and the younger view
I don't think the US should open for at least another two months. I'm only in high school, which doesn't really give me the best grades, but seeing that other schools are ending for the year makes me very concerned. As soon as we open up again, it is very likely that people will come back together and have parties. Even if this is limited, people will find a way. Everyone wants to see their friends and family, and opening them before we're sure sounds pretty silly to me.
– Maggie Richards, Ithaca, N.Y.
Think of the rural areas …
My husband and I live in the northern part of the state near Sandpoint, Idaho. It is a vacation area with a beautiful lake and miles of mountain trails in forest service areas. To date, only four cases of the virus have been reported, but many people do not practice social distancing. We are concerned about people arriving from Washington and Montana for recreation. There are approximately 45,000 people in this county and our hospital has 25 beds with only four I.C.U. Rooms. The hospital does not have enough P.P.E. and asked the residents to sew handmade masks.
– Connie Burkhart, hope, Idaho
"Uncomfortable and expensive"
Outside the tristate hot zone, Covid-19 is a different experience. The bad hospital situation in the news is only a three-stage problem. Nobody on my street, and none of my friends or anyone that all these people know of, tested positive for corona virus. So far it has been a TV show for us. One that is really impractical and expensive.
I'm afraid that as a Democrat, we have reduced our chances of keeping the house by overreacting to what will turn out to be the case a very expensive misjudgment of coronavirus mortality rates, and hence the need to block job termination.
– David Bates, Dexter, Mich.
Fear of public health
I am a new small business in downtown Omaha. I opened my bridal shop a year ago and when I enter the second month with the doors closed it is hard to know what the future holds. Nebraska is one of the few states without an order that stays at home, and it's frankly scary. So much has changed, but it feels like the majority of people are living normally. I'm worried we're going to be a hot spot. I still have open-door competitors. I'm not sure how they run the business at a safe distance and with surface contaminants, but our governor hasn't asked either of us to close the business. It's pretty scary and disappointing to be honest.
– Rachel Campbell, Omaha
Fear of the economy
As long as the reopening is staged and scientifically sound, I think it should start within a few weeks. People forget that the virus will only go away if there is a vaccine. At best, we will have rolling spots and times when Covid-19 will return. In this case, the social distance must be measured and localized again, depending on how it repeats itself.
We will all live in poverty and ruin if we wait for this to go away. If the economy doesn't stay as healthy as possible, the country and the many lives that depend on at least one moderately healthy system will be destroyed.
– Rev. Dr. Robert Holaday, Littlefield, Texas
It's frustrating when people still believe and trust the government to do its job, let alone the right thing. We have an enemy, Covid-19. However, some leaders who resist and remain against orders are not only dangerous for everyone, but also annoying. The more disobedient people are, the longer this chaos is chaos. I am grateful and yet terrible for our most important employees in all industries. Because anyone who does not do his part, his civil duty to stay inside, to be aware of his hygiene and health, literally gives everyone else a big middle finger.
This is bigger than you. It is the fastest and dirtiest virus that can wipe out economies, healthy people, vulnerable people, children, the elderly, etc. The best thing you can do is be cozy. Do whatever was on your personal to-do list. Or don't do anything.
This past week felt a little harder than usual. However, it doesn't change how quickly Covid-19 takes revenge worldwide. Country to country, city to airport, doorknob to person.
– Catherine Tran, San Francisco
Rescue packages, protests, postal votes, and presidential campaign: there is so much to do when it comes to coronavirus policy.
Curious why we can't all vote online? Or what's next with the congress? And where was Joe Biden anyway?
Email us at email@example.com with all your political questions. We will try to answer them in a future issue. As always, please remember to give your name and place of residence.
From the opinion: campaigns and the veepstakes
Although it sometimes doesn't seem like it, with a few rallies and without knocking on the door or a lot of political organization of any kind – there is a presidential election this year.
And the advantage of an incumbent – using the presidency equipment (such as Air Force One and the Oval Office) as a background for behavior when re-elected – has taken a new form. As the Times columnist, Charles Blow, writes, "The White House has been holding its daily coronavirus briefings for over a month," from the White House rose garden or from the press conference room. These briefings, Blow says, "have simply become a substitute for his political rallies" and convey "misinformation, deceptions, anger, blaming and boasting".
Suspected Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden faces the traditional insurgent hurdles – but he can do a lot to grab national attention, even if traditional retail means like knocking on the door and rallying have to wait. He can elect his vice president, as Times columnists Gail Collins and Bret Stephens suggest. They discuss the prospect of Senators Amy Klobuchar or Elizabeth Warren or the governors Gina Raimondo or Gretchen Whitmer who join Mr. Biden on the ticket. But Mr. Biden should be careful, warns Stephens, because "choosing someone like Elizabeth Warren is playing Mr. Trump into your hands."
– Adam Rubenstein
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