Amid US 2020 election, coronavirus becomes a matter of political dispute

With the 2020 presidential elections at the horizon, even a pandemic becomes a matter of right and left.

Emergency Medical Technicians wearing protective gear wheel a sick patient to a waiting ambulance during the outbreak of coronavirus disease in New York City, March 28, 2020 (photo credit: REUTERS/STEFAN JEREMIAH)
Emergency Medical Technicians wearing protective gear wheel a sick patient to a waiting ambulance during the outbreak of coronavirus disease in New York City, March 28, 2020
(photo credit: REUTERS/STEFAN JEREMIAH)
WASHINGTON – The US is torn up inside by the coronavirus pandemic. On Monday, more than 22,000 people tested positive, and more than 600 died. On Tuesday, the US death tally from COVID-19  surpassed that in China. 
Across the country, life is completely different than it was just three weeks ago: New York has 70,000 cases, and more than 1,300 have died. Field hospitals are now open in Central Park, at the Javits Center, and on the USNS Comfort. In Maryland, the parking lot at FedExField, home for the Washington Redskins, was converted into a testing field. In Las Vegas, homeless people are being placed in a parking lot, two meters apart from each other.
As tens of millions of people have lost their jobs, the economic effect of the pandemic has become clear  as well. In Duquesne, Pennsylvania, hundreds of cars have been lined up on Monday to receive food from the Greater Community Food Bank.
In addition to the health and economic crisis, there is now a political dispute as well. In the hyper-partisan reality of America and with the 2020 presidential elections on the horizon, even a pandemic is a matter of right and left.
For the past several weeks, politicians at the federal, state, and municipal level have been pointing fingers at each other. At the local and state levels, a few mayors and county officials in blue, urban areas, urged their governors to issue a mandatory “stay at home” order. But governors of Texas, Missouri and Mississippi were making the case that populations in urban and rural areas are different, and therefore they shouldn’t face the same restrictions.
“At the end of the day, it is going to be personal responsibility that’s going to be a part of the future of what we’re doing to fight the coronavirus,” Governor Mike Parson of Missouri said at a press conference.
Between the state and federal levels, things aren’t looking any different. On Friday, US President Donald Trump approved a disaster declaration for Michigan, after a long and public feud with its governor, Gretchen Whitmer. The president tweeted that she is “way in over her head, she doesn’t have a clue. Likes blaming everyone for her own ineptitude!”
"I've asked repeatedly and respectfully for help," Whitmer tweeted in response. "We need it. No more political attacks, just PPEs, ventilators, N95 masks, test kits. You said you stand with Michigan. Prove it," she added. Other Democratic governors, such as Andrew Cuomo of New York and Jay Inslee of Washington, had their own tensions with the president, as well.
With the elections seven months away, it is hard to separate politics from crisis management. Every state and administration official knows that his or her actions today are going to be judged on November 3 by the voters. And yet, the US – now leading by far with the number of COVID-19 cases worldwide, must come together to win the pandemic.
President Trump compared the pandemic to war, and rightly invoked the Defense Production Act to require GM to produce ventilators. But no war can be won when a nation is divided, and its officials are fighting each other.