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US Covid Policies: Voices In The Crowd

Platform is proud to introduce our first segment of “Voices in the crowd”, a new section for our upcoming editions. Each month we will feature a different important political issue through the views of those who are being affected by this issue in their everyday lives. We will ask these people to answer a few questions that will shine a light on their political perspectives and how they are experiencing this particular issue. This month we will ask Americans of different age groups (18-25, 26-35, 36-45, 46-60, 61 and above) around the country what they think about COVID-19 policies in the US.

Question 1: Has the Biden Administration handled COVID correctly?

Lisa [46-60] from New York: The Biden administration has handled Covid well. Biden started his term with recognizing Covid losses with the white flags ceremony. Battling Covid is at forefront of the administration.

Jeremy [18-25] from New York: Obviously, Republicans and Democrats generally disagree on this question, but as a Republican, I believe the dangers of COVID and the efficacy of COVID vaccines have been exaggerated by the mainstream media and the CDC. Naturally, because of this overstated danger, the protective measures mandated by the CDC have been and currently are more restrictive than necessary. On the other hand, I do agree with the various economic stimuli that have been implemented by the administration—such as freezing student loan interest, and stimulus checks.

Dina [46-60] from Illinois: Honestly, no one has handled COVID policy well. President Trump was asking good questions about therapeutics (as a layman), but got shut down constantly. Vaccines were touted as a cure, but any scientist worth their salt would know the natural pattern of a virus like this. President Biden lambasted Trump and put the blame squarely on him, promising to shut down the virus. To add to the mayhem, the pharma companies held back their application for EUAs until after the election in a blatant political move. States held back vaccines until after inauguration then started pushing them as the only path forward. Constant contradictions mainly as political virtue signaling, and a divided populace. No one actually educated the average American in science, and you have Fauci being the only constant, telling us that HE is science and if you don’t trust him exclusively, you’re a moron. Now, it’s a race to see how far they can push the fear tactics with a mutant that affects everyone whether you’ve been following Fauci’s directions to the letter or not, whether you have no, one, two or three jabs, and it’s the equivalent of a severe cold or a mild flu. This is the natural end to the pandemic. My husband & I [who both have degrees in science] have both said from the start that this will end with it being endemic and we have to learn to leave the fear behind and live with it.

Samantha [36-46] from Colorado: COVID is just another virus like the flu but because it is new more people are getting sick from it and will continue to until the majority of people have been exposed to it things won’t slow down, regardless of vaccine status. The government-federal, state and locals don’t know what to do as there really is nothing that can be done, but the media causes uproar and fear from the population so the government has to say something to try and control the people.

Jacob [18-25] from Texas: The Biden administration has done a decent job hof handling the COVID situation given the information at hand. They mostly left COVID restrictions to the states, with the exception of a Federal employee vaccine mandate, which is a good tool to get as many vaccinations as possible which should be and is an aim of the administration. So, good job on that. They did set up testing. They perhaps could have done more. Everyone wants big actions but sometimes the best action for the Federal government is to do no action at all and let the states handle it.

Sarah [18-25] from California: I can't say whether the Biden administration had handled covid correctly because I have not been following the administration's policies closely at all.

Chris [18–25] from South Carolina: I believe the Biden administration currently has done their best to implement COVID measures despite opposition from various political parties and certain politicians. It’s a difficult situation. So far they’ve done well.

Jake [26-35] from Florida: They have done a decent job with some missteps, but due to various factors it’s hard to do everything from the federal level

Question 2: Do you think a government should be allowed to mandate vaccination or other basic COVID restrictions?

Samantha [36-46] from Colorado: No. Since it has now been almost 2 years of this, time has proven that vaccines, masks, travel bans do nothing to “stop the spread”. The virus has mutated and will continue to mutate, just like the flu. Where’s the bashing, bans and everything else for all the other vaccines out there that people choose to or choose not to get. Putting bans, closing down school and limiting social interactions has proven to do more damage emotionally and socially then any good at helping the virus. People need to get over the fear the media and government is putting out and live their lives.

Jeremy [18-25] from New York: On a Constitutional level, the federal government has not overstepped its power. First, various COVID-related regulations are justified by the Commerce Clause; precedent is clear that the government can regulate any economic activity that has substantial effects on interstate commerce, and the channels of interstate commerce (i.e., air travel, railways). States are still left to choose whether to mandate mask-wearing, testing and travel bans—the CDC merely makes recommendations, and the federal government only mandates masking and testing for people that enter federal property and travel via air or interstate rail so there is certainly no violation of state sovereignty here, and mandates on federal property are justified by the Necessary and Proper Clause, as promoting employees’ health is necessary for Congress to exercise its enumerated powers that allow it to create federal agencies in the first place.Second, regarding state governments, there is no Constitutional right to not wear a mask, and states do have the right to make laws governing the general health of their citizens. It is true that many COVID-related rules do invade citizens’ personal autonomy, but this does not make such measures impermissible. There are many examples of such invasions—such as people being sent to jail, or being forbidden from doing certain things, such as flying a plane without a pilot’s license—but what these all have in common is that the invasion or autonomy is necessary to protect society as a whole, and in this regard, COVID regulations are no different. Lastly, in principle, governments can ethically impose such regulations, so long as the regulations are reasonably adapted to the end sought. While such regulations do violate individual autonomy, that violation ultimately increases societal welfare by preventing disease, so from a utilitarian perspective, such regulations are permissible.

Lisa [46-60] from New York: A government should have the power to create broad mandates to combat Covid, given that it is a pandemic.

Sarah [18-25] from California: Yes I do believe governments should be allowed to mandate covid restrictions within reason.

Dina [46-60] from Illinois: Mandates are tricky and a slippery slope. Seems really odd to me that those who support abortion through birth, claiming “my body my choice” are the first to support mandates for masking and the jabs. All of these should be between the patient and their medical care professional. One size does not fit all, especially with medical matters. First they mandate this, what’s next, mandated abortions or locking people up in camps who don’t agree with the government? As for testing, they create the problem without having enough tests. Now they want tests in order to exit quarantine after you’ve tested positive? People will be locked up for months since PCR tests can remain positive for up to 90 days after symptoms have gone away.

Jacob [18-25] from Texas: Yes, there is a lot of talk about a slippery slope argument that, if governments have this level of control it infringes on civil liberty. I think that you need to have flexibility when it comes to a crisis such as a public health crisis. The choice would be getting vaccinated yourself for when you are mixing in with other people in the workplace. It’s not solely based on you and your liberty. You are effectively harming other people by being more prone to being a carrier. It is very much in the public domain as to whether people get the vaccines. Governments should have a say, not necessarily to mandate or force someone to get a vaccine, but to force people who want, let’s say, to go to restaurants, or show up at a workplace to be vaccinated or to wear a mask. It’s a very necessary power for a government to have in times of a pandemic or crisis.

Chris [18–25] from South Carolina: Government should have authority to pass certain legislation including travel bans, requiring masks in order to ensure public safety. There are times when public safety overrides a person's perceived concept of personal freedom because it interferes with getting anything accomplished.

Jake [26-35] from Florida: In the public sector yes and the private sector no.

Question 3: Is there a specific measure the government should take or rescind?

Dina [46-60] from Illinois: The federal government should be as little involved as possible. They can make sure states get what they need both in terms of vaccines and therapeutics. KEEP POLITICS OUT OF IT and allow questions, don’t shut anyone down for asking questions! And certainly don’t collaborate with the media and big tech to censor opinions or research that the politicians disagree with. They can encourage people to seek medical advice from their doctor who knows them best, to make sure patients get all the answers they need before making medical decisions. Again, one person isn’t all of science, especially when he keeps changing his mind!

Lisa [46-60] from New York: In the United States, I believe the federal government has the right to transcend state governments rules about Covid. We must, as a country-and global citizens try to simultaneously follow preventive measures against Covid.

Jeremy [18-25] from New York: As of now, in my opinion the federal government’s measures make sense. For instance, one of the most contentious COVID measures is the vaccine mandate for large private employers. However, it should be remembered that the federal government has authority to regulate workplace safety—that’s precisely what OSHA does. Additionally, at least in principle, the Commerce Clause also supports such a mandate, although whether the Supreme Court would agree would depend on empirical data regarding vaccine efficacy. However, I do think that state-level mask mandates should be rescinded, and, on a more local note, school-wide mandates in private schools. First, most people wear surgical masks and cloth masks—which are marginally effective, at best. If such masks were significantly effective, I would agree with public and private mask mandates, although the mainstream media does not really discuss such masks’ efficacy, and that can only make one wonder: if surgical masks are effective, and you want people to wear the masks, it would make sense to inform the public of studies confirming their efficacy. Moreover, strongly encouraging the public to take a measure that likely is not effective, and passing it off as being effective, undermines public confidence in other measures which may actually be effective, like vaccines—which will not be a panacea, at least seem to have significant positive effects.

Samantha [36-46] from Colorado: There is no current vaccine mandate for employees at this time although some workplaces are requiring it and losing employees or struggling to find employees to work for them because of it.

Jacob [18-25] from Texas: No. I think they’ve actually struck a decent balance. The vaccine mandate for Federal employees is perhaps the limit of what they could do. There are no other Federal strong arming moves that I think should be done. I don’t think they should rescind what they’ve done either. Lockdowns, at least during this wave, have been sparse. And no travel bans so they’ve done a good job keeping the borders open.

Sarah [18-25] from California: Employees in healthcare and education should be required to vaccinate unless other health issues prevent that.

Chris [18–25] from South Carolina: Government should enforce certain legislation such as mask mandates and vaccinations because it breaks down barriers and it’s a major health crisis.

Jake [26-35] from Florida: It depends on some specific problems and areas, but I can’t really think of anything other than vaccine mandates for public employees.

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