As millions of people across the country and across the world practice “social distancing” and isolation during the coronavirus pandemic, a small percentage are ignoring health officials’ advice and congregating in large groups. By now you’ve undoubtedly seen the pictures of college kids on Spring Break congregating on Florida beaches, for example, or have read about restaurant owners refusing to close the doors, despite orders from officials.
Analysts have suggested a few reasons for this, including the Trump administration’s early downplaying of the severity of the pandemic. Another possible explanation is the general attitude that Americans don’t like being told what to do, as Yahoo News reports.
Here are details on some of those reasons.
The Trump Administration Initially Brushed Off The Severity Of The Pandemic
A CNN report from earlier this week lays out the myriad ways in which the Trump administration, at least initially, appeared not to take the pandemic seriously. For example, he suggested that it would “disappear” via a “miracle” or warmer weather, or that Democrats were “overyhyping” the pandemic.
Although Trump has since appeared to begin taking the virus seriously, some Americans may have been lulled into a false sense of safety, suggests Yahoo News writer Mike Bebernes.
The Lack Of Testing Equipment Likely Obfuscates How Many People Are Infected
Every day, the number of confirmed cases in the U.S. increases. But, the number of confirmed cases is only part of the story. Though there may be “only” 14,000 or so cases of COVID-19, the number of people actually infected is likely considerably higher; we just don’t know it yet because we lack the amount of test kits we need.
The seemingly-small number of confirmed cases, likely nothing approaching the actual number of cases, may have instilled a belief in some Americans that the coronavirus “problem” isn’t a problem at all.
Some Americans Simply Don’t Like Being Told What They Can And Can’t Do
Downtown Nashville is undefeated. pic.twitter.com/BFIOzukFct
— Janna Abraham (@SportsPundette) March 15, 2020
“Rugged individualism,” as some commentators call it, is part of the American DNA. And while that can-do attitude and putting aside of rules may have worked in some cases, in this case it could result in the health care system being overwhelmed.
Writing in GQ, Julia Ioffe explains the attitude she sees in many Americans when it comes to isolating during the coronavirus pandemic.
“It is my choice whether I go to school or work or a social gathering leaking snot, and you can’t tell me otherwise,” she writes.
Similarly, writing in New York Magazine, Sarah Jones posits that Americans, absent socialized medicine unlike most of the rest of the developed world, believe that their health is an individual choice, not one that affects the community.
“The absence of any seriously developed health-care infrastructure abandons people to muddle through on their own,” she writes.