Certainly Trump, who aggressively pushed for the country to remain open in defiance of scientific advice, deserves blame. As do several Republican governors who caused another wave by reopening in the summer. But Birx’s remarks also raise deeper questions: Is the United States, with its natural distrust of centralized authority, reverence for individual freedom, and deep political divides simply constructed in a way that makes fighting a pandemic more difficult? And what is the right balance between saving lives by following the advice of medical professionals and sustaining livelihoods by protecting the country’s economic health?
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