Mike Zielinski

Mike Zielinski

American individualism and personal freedom are the building blocks of our nation.

Over the decades the want for American individualism got so powerful it burst and became a need.

Memories often are lost in the great maw of history. But America’s founding principles remain powerfully adhesive. Personal freedom is to America like the swoosh is to Nike.

And proving to be our Achilles’ heel in our response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Unlike many nations, the U.S. response to the coronavirus has been consistently inconsistent. It’s also uniquely American. And a mess. Our number of infections and deaths are inexcusably tragic.

The coronavirus outbreak in the United States has had a grim exponential growth because America has almost no public capacity or will to deal with the herculean measures that were put in place across the globe to slow the disease’s spread.

The federal government from the start ceded leadership on the pandemic response to the governors. The President, often dismissive of the virus, contradicts or ignores public health officials. Governors vary in their responses, often dictated by party lines.

Only in America can the pandemic be refracted through an ideological lens. We see members of the other party as the enemy rather than the virus.

I just wish founding father John Dickinson’s famous refrain of united we stand, divided we fall was equally adhesive in America’s memory bank.

The absence of a federal response to the virus has been deadly, compounded by the administration’s severe allergy to data and science.

To be blunt, Uncle Sam was caught with his pants down and the coronavirus bit him in the ass. And is still biting because we still have inadequate testing, contact tracing and isolating.

So we carry on with state and local officials — some of whom pandering more to politics than medical science — leading the fight.

Fragmentation in stemming a pandemic is like going to the hunt without a gun.

Individualism without mistakes is like dinner without wine.

Take the stupid, stubborn refusal of many Americans not to wear masks.

I don't know what it is, but I can't look at a guy without a mask in this crisis and believe that he's the end result of millions and millions of years of evolution.

Americans don’t strip naked, cover themselves in tuna oil and lower themselves into a tank full of barracuda. But they don’t wear masks or social distance.

None of us would ever suck face with a rhinoceros. But too many of us are choosing to suck face with the coronavirus. Which is why our infection and mortality rates suck.

Mike Zielinski, a resident of Berks County, is a columnist, novelist, playwright and screenwriter.

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