• Youth Energy Squad

National Pandemic Lockdown? You decide.

Updated: Apr 6

Goals: Gaining expertise on Coronavirus pandemic, analysis skills, opinion forming, critical thinking

Age Group: High School

Supplies: Pen/Pencil or Computer

Time: Less than 1 hour


Instructions: Read the following excerpt from the New York Times and respond to the questions below.

From NYTimes Coronavirus coverage on 3/24/20

Even as nations from Britain to India declare nationwide economic lockdowns, President Trump said he “would love to have the country opened up, and just raring to go, by Easter,” less than three weeks away, a goal that top health professionals have called far too quick.

“I think it’s possible, why not?” he said with a shrug.

Participating in a town hall hosted by Fox News, Mr. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence said on Tuesday that such a step has never been under consideration for the United States. He expressed outrage about having to “close the country” to curb the spread of the coronavirus and indicated his guidelines on business shutdowns and social distancing would soon be lifted.

“I gave it two weeks,” he said, adding, “We can socially distance ourselves and go to work.”

Mr. Pence told viewers that talk of such a lockdown was misinformation that has circulated online.

“I can tell you that at no point has the White House Coronavirus Task Force discussed a nationwide lockdown,” he said, answering a question from a viewer on the phone.

Mr. Trump fell back on his comparison of the coronavirus to the flu, saying that despite losing thousands of people to the flu, “We don’t turn the country off.”

He also said that more people die of automobile accidents, but nobody forces car companies to stop manufacturing vehicles.

States including California, Maryland, Illinois and Washington have declared stay-at-home or shutdown orders, but other states have been looking for directives from the Trump administration. And countries in Asia are beginning to see a resurgence of coronavirus after easing up on restrictions.

For governors and mayors who have been trying to educate people about the urgent need to stay home and maintain social distance, Mr. Trump’s recent statements suggesting that such measures may be going too far threatened to make their jobs more difficult.

“Some of the messaging is pretty confusing,” Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland, a Republican who moved this week to close nonessential businesses in his state, said in an interview Tuesday morning on CNN, before the president announced his new Easter goal, when he was asked about the Mr. Trump’s talk in recent days of relaxing social distancing guidelines. “I think it’s not just it doesn’t match with what we’re doing here in Maryland. Some of the messaging coming out of the administration doesn’t match.”

Mr. Hogan, the chairman of the bipartisan National Governors Association, said that health officials suggest that the virus’s peak could be weeks or months away. “We’re just trying to take the best advice that we can from the scientists and all the experts, and making the decisions that we believe are necessary for our states,” he said.

As the town hall meeting was getting underway Tuesday, three leading medical and health organizations urged Americans to stay home to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

“We are honored to serve and put our lives on the front line to protect and save as many lives as possible,” the American Medical Association, American Hospital Association, and American Nurses Association wrote in an open letter. “But we need your help.”

But the president and vice president were resolute that they want the country reopened. Mr. Pence said the administration’s timeline for trying to get businesses restarted and workers out of their homes was shorter than the period that health experts have said would be necessary to flatten the curve.

“We’ll focus on our most vulnerable, but putting America back to work will also be a priority, in weeks not months,” Mr. Pence said.

Questions:

  1. What is President Trump’s explanation for his decision not to order a national lockdown as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic?

  2. What information in the article suggests that the President is making a mistake?

  3. Does the Governor of Maryland agree or disagree with President Trump? What information in the article supports your answer?

  4. When you are given conflicting information, how do you decide what to believe or what action to take?

  5. What would a national lockdown mean for American people, on a day-to-day basis and on a long term basis?

  6. What pros and cons do you see for declaring a national lockdown?

  7. If you were the President, would you declare a national lockdown? Why or why not?

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