Lockdowns in the U.S. can be made more effective

March 18, 2021 — by Ethan Lin

When the pandemic struck, much of the world shut down. From small businesses to local restaurants and even public schools, much of public life came to a standstill. Although not everyone has faced the virus directly, COVID-19 has changed many aspects of people’s lives, forcing everyone to adapt to new safety measures, such as lockdowns and social distancing. 

With the number of coronavirus cases fluctuating every few months in the U.S., however, many have questioned the effectiveness of these lockdowns. 

On paper, lockdowns seem to be the best way to prevent transmission of the virus. According to a study by a team of Austrian scientists, governments that implemented this measure have drastically reduced the number of infections — under the condition that the majority of people adhere to these containment conditions. 

Therein lies the issue.

Americans generally have a strong sense of individuality and believe in their rights as citizens. As a result, many refuse to follow government regulations, rendering lockdown measures ineffective. 

Although lockdowns have been proven to work in countries such as Taiwan, where people have seen a total of only 960 cases — 928 of which have recovered — the U.S. still struggles to lower its high infection rate. 

To make lockdowns more effective, the federal government should first appeal to American patriotism, framing protecting public health as a service for the nation. Advertisements and PSAs, much like the ones seen on social media about new Congress propositions, can also help reiterate the importance of adhering to lockdown guidelines. 

Given the current divided political climate; however, making all Americans adhere to these guidelines can be difficult, with Red states such as Texas, Mississippi, and Wyoming completely opening everything up, abandoning any mode of social distancing or mask-wearing, while Blue states continue to remain cautious because 60,000 to 70,000 people are still getting infected daily. 

Choosing to open everything up, like what the Texas governor did, is just plain reckless and risks thousands of lives when the U.S is right at the cusp of beating the virus. If Americans follow current social distancing and mask-wearing guidelines, there might only be three or fourth months to get through, ultimately avoiding a fourth surge of infections.

As of mid-March, roughly 10 percent of the public is vaccinated, but even with 3 million people vaccinated daily, issues regarding virus variants coming from Brazil are especially concerning, as the vaccines appear to be only somewhat effective against those strains. 

The race between variants and vaccines can only be solved with social distancing and mask-wearing, so all Americans, no matter their political affiliation, must recognize the importance of following these guidelines to improve the health and safety of those around them.

Still, certain political figures, like the ex-president, have illustrated blatant disregard for some of these measures and turned the issue into a political one. For staunch Republicans, mask-wearing and social distancing are not in consideration at all. This is problematic as the government should recognize they are role models for the American people and must reorganize themselves if they want people to follow lockdown guidelines.

The government should also mitigate the huge economic costs that come with being in lockdown. Those who cannot work at home should either be under special guidelines that allow them to go out for work or receive some financial benefit that will help their situation. Recently, Democrats in the House and Senate passed a $1.9 trillion stimulus relief package to aid lower and middle-income Americans and extend unemployment insurance: a step in the right direction for providing help to those in need. 

Some have pointed out that implementing mandatory rules like lockdowns only prompts people to go against these regulations, thus leading to more harm than good. Although this may be true, according to Frontiers in Public Health, as long as 90 percent of the population follows lockdown guidelines, lockdowns can be very effective. There will always be those who disobey mandates, but as long as the majority adhere to mandatory guidelines, the lockdowns will remain largely effective.

The government should re-emphasize and consider changing the way they approach setting up and promoting lockdown guidelines. Until such measures are taken to reinforce these lockdown measures, Americans will continue to remain doubtful of lockdowns and the infection rates will continue to fluctuate.