There is a general consensus around the globe that 2020 will be a unique year in history. The COVID-19 pandemic put its mark on the year from the very beginning, and the developments that took place in the U.S. demonstrated that the year will continue to surprise and shock us until the very end.
For months now the U.S. has been one of the epicenters of the global pandemic that started in China in late 2019. While in March and April, New York City was considered the major hot spot of the outbreak around the world. Since then different cities have continued to suffer the impact of the pandemic.
In summer, mostly southern states in the U.S. turned out to be the new epicenters. Thousands of people died in Florida, California, Texas and Georgia. What these four states witnessed in the summer was similar to what was going on in New York in the spring. In the meantime, the issue in the U.S. politicized.
For some, masks and social distancing have become a political statement. The issues of normalization and economic reopening polarized along the party lines. Some governors rejected the recommendations of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and contradicted their own scientists.
Today, daily coronavirus numbers almost double those seen in April. More than 20 states are experiencing an increase in case numbers. Wisconsin is one of the new epicenters of this outbreak now.
COVID-19 has impacted the economy and politics deeply in the last six months. The economy in the U.S. shrank at a record rate, unemployment increased rapidly and many different uncertainties emerged regarding the future trajectory of the U.S. economy.
The 2020 presidential race turned out to be nothing that we have seen or heard of before. The campaigns that were launched late and in the initial days of the pandemic did not know how to manage these conditions. Society polarized during the pandemic as well. U.S. President Donald Trump wanted to mobilize those who want to open the economy and start the normalization process.
While everybody was expecting to hear from the scientists about a vaccine against COVID-19, hoping to see the light at the end of this tunnel, a significant development on Friday brought COVID-19 to the center of U.S. politics. Early Friday, Trump tweeted about his COVID-19 test result, announcing that his and the first lady’s tests came back positive.
The White House announced that the president will be in quarantine for 14 days at his residence at the White House. This development took the attention away from other issues and problems and made Americans focus once more on the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, people around the world also listened intently to the news coming from Washington.
While many were trying to figure out how the president could have contracted the virus, another news from the White House generated further concern. Trump on Friday afternoon was taken to Walter Reed Medical Center. Although the White House announced that it was simply a cautionary move, conflicting reports on the news networks increased concerns about the president’s health.
The doctor’s statement Saturday did not clarify the situation. Trump’s short address through a video also generated questions about the length of his stay at the hospital and his overall condition.
This development has guaranteed, without a doubt, that COVID-19 will be the most significant issue for the voters in the 2020 elections. The two campaigns will have to respond to questions from the electorates about the COVID-19 crisis.
Although Trump’s campaign tried to present that business was going on, as usual, Trump’s hospitalization because of COVID-19 is a major setback for the messages he intended to give about the economy, law and order.
Even after his recovery, journalists will be asking Trump about his previous positions regarding masks and social distancing. And regardless of what will happen in the election, observers will be discussing the impact of COVID-19 on voter preferences. For the U.S. and many countries around the world, 2020 will be a year that was hijacked by a virus from 2019.
[Daily Sabah, 5 October 2020]