Every generation has one. For my parents, it was when the twin towers fell; for many grandparents, it was when President Kennedy was assassinated. The moment I learned of the first coronavirus case was my “milestone moment.”
As talk of the novel coronavirus disease was mounting in February 2020, some friends were concerned while others viewed it as a mere nuisance. I tried to remain calm, viewing the virus with the shrewd impartiality I’d learned in my lab science classes; however, I would be lying if I told you that the fear did not creep in.
In the early days of the lockdown, my family was confused on how to go about living in quarantine safely. Some neighbors insisted on putting fresh vegetables in the dishwasher, saying it was the only way to rid food products of the virus. Others were simply going about life as before, underestimating the power of an enemy they could not see. We looked to our elected officials for guidance, hoping they would be informed on the issues affecting their constituency. Yet most of the rhetoric coming from the federal level involved a blame game on China, rather than concrete action items on how to systematically test for and contain the virus.
It has been roughly six months since the onset of the COVID-19 virus in America. North Carolina currently has over 150,000 total cases. North Carolina’s senators are yet to present North Carolinians with a concrete plan for increasing incidence rates of coronavirus and access to healthcare issues that are being exacerbated during the pandemic. So I found out what my Senators are actually doing about the virus — most importantly, Sen. Thom Tillis, the Junior Senator from North Carolina whose seat is up for election in November.
While Tillis does acknowledge the COVID-19 pandemic as a serious threat to our society, his actual plans lack substantive information on health policy solutions. The cover page on Tillis’s website features a 17 page plan on how the senator plans to hold the Chinese government responsible for being the source of the virus. He makes claims in his documentation that range from asserting that coronavirus may be a bioterrorism weapon to stating that Chinese manufacturers are intentionally selling ineffective n95 masks in the United States. More effort is put into placing blame than figuring out how to cope with the pandemic.
Cal Cunningham is the democratic opposing candidate running for North Carolina’s Junior Senatorial seat. His approach to the pandemic is more thorough and involves various public health policy ideas on both a state and federal level. The plans are intended to prevent the further spread of the virus and get more people access to the healthcare they need. Cunningham also addresses the importance of contact tracing and increased testing to control the spread of the virus. In a list of his COVID-19 priorities, Cunningham proposes policy ideas to increase access to affordable healthcare by extending coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and expanding Medicaid in North Carolina. According to Axios, the primary focus of Cunningham’s election plans is to ensure that citizens who have lost their health insurance due to the economic downturn caused by the pandemic.
I’m jealous of the girl I was when I experienced the initial creeping fear as COVID-19 first entered the nation. Since then, I’ve gone through the gamut of emotions. After the fear and anxiety took hold of me, I couldn’t watch the news for longer than 10 minutes without being frightened for my own family’s health. Next, I found myself angry and took to social media in an effort to highlight the problems with our current government. Now, the apathy has settled in. Sometimes I feel that no amount of effort made by my generation to better our community actually amounts to anything.
There isn’t much I can do, but I can vote for North Carolinian interests to be represented in the federal government. I’ll be voting for Cal Cunningham in the November election for precisely this reason: his priorities lie with the health of the people of North Carolina rather than the interests of the federal administration.
Coulture’s mission statement says that we aim to be a magazine for people of all shapes and sizes, for those who speak up and stand out. We recognize that it is important to hear from people with personal views, strong perspectives, and something to say. This article is part of Coulture’s “What I’m Voting For” initiative where members write about the issues they care about in the 2020 election.