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From PR Problem to Public Health Crisis: Coronavirus and Politics

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March 24, 2020

Stan LugerFrom Political Science Professor Stan Luger’s vantage, the U.S. presidential response over the past few weeks has transformed from treating the coronavirus as a pesky public relations problem involving quarantining passengers of cruise ships off the U.S. coast to elevating it to the emergency status of a true public health crisis.  

Both sides of the aisle have had to confront the pandemic, with emergency relief legislation that was fast tracked and approved by congress and signed by President Trump this week.  

While coronavirus presents an unprecedented issue for the country, divisions mostly across party lines still create schisms. Both sides of the aisle question reactions, leading Luger to deduce that even a public health crisis can’t escape the clutches of partisan politics.  

Still, there is hope. Luger cites the nation’s history in adapting to adverse situations, recalling World War II and the resolve of U.S. companies to shift from producing consumer goods to wartime materials. Indeed, that ingenuity persists today as the nation’s automakers today are evaluating whether they can produce ventilators at their plants. Luger also said provisions of the National Defense Act may allow for presidential decisions that can aid the situation. Ultimately, Luger said political deference to medical professionals and the healthcare system takes on primacy.  

“We need to ramp up the capacity of the medical system,” Luger said. “We need those people with medical training to make the call of what’s it going to take to limit (the effects of coronavirus) to the extent it can be limited.” 

—Written by Nate Haas


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