Letter: US cannot mirror Russian response

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 5, 2020

In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, I cannot help but draw parallels between the United State’s lackluster response and that of Russia in the early days of the first World War.

Then, Russia’s inability to supply its soldiers and its ineffectual chain of command cost it the war. Similar to Tsarist Russia in its own time, the U.S. is considered a premier world power. Yet, it seems that, like Russia, we are either incapable or unwilling to marshal that power towards effectual change. Although not by war, the U.S. today is being tested, and the federal government has been consistently incapable of distributing vital resources to states with a high density of coronavirus cases.

Even when the requested aid is delivered, it is oftentimes far less, or even different, than what the state had asked for. That was the case in Illinois after governor J.B. Pritzker had requested 300,000 N95 face masks but was given a smaller number of surgical masks. These masks, according to the Centers for Disease Control, do not provide respiratory protection.

Our ineffectual marshaling of resources will only extend the timeline of the virus, the economic impacts of which would send us into a period reminiscent of the Great Depression. Despite this, the U.S. has failed to centralize the production of much-needed equipment. As of today, only a few corporations have been compelled to produce ventilators, masks and other life-saving equipment. In this unprecedented time, the U.S. is still a leading world power. However, if we continue to drag our feet, then we may go the way of imperial Russia, and prove ourselves to be but a shadow of our former selves.

— Joseph Clark