Looking Through the Lens of the COVID-19 Pandemic

George Linzer
3 min readApr 22, 2020

There’s nothing like an immediate worldwide crisis to focus the attention and resources of an entire society on figuring out how to solve this common problem. That’s what the coronavirus and the disease it causes, COVID-19, have done. News consumption is up as people try to make sense of this strange, new, and frightening world we now live in. And for the first time in years, we are seeing rapid, bipartisan legislation passed to help American workers and businesses, and to support the science needed to hasten our return to our old normal.

Big government at its best, boldest, and most beautiful? Maybe, unless you are one of the many Americans who would prefer to establish a new normal rather than return to the old one.

The coronavirus is bringing concentrated attention to the large faults in our old systems:

  • The need to build, sustain, and improve — and not dismantle — the functions of the federal government so that it is prepared to unify and lead during times of crisis like this COVID-19 pandemic. The crisis should have caught no elected official or corporate executive by surprise, as it has been publicly predicted and anticipated for years by healthcare and national security experts;
  • The racism that is baked into housing and employment practices that produce economic and healthcare inequities that, in turn, have made the African-American population in this country more vulnerable to the COVID-19 disease than our other citizens;
  • The degree of wealth inequality that enables the very rich to shelter in place aboard luxury yachts and secured estates, with enough money and connections to assure access to fresh foods and coronavirus testing and treatment, while too many Americans struggle to pay for food and shelter, can’t get hand sanitizer or disinfectant wipes, and live in conditions that put them at greater risk of exposure to the disease.

We live in a democracy that demands that we all get an equal voice in how our country is run, but the COVID-19 pandemic is reminding us that some people in this country want to deny that right to some of us rather than take steps to ensure voter safety and election security. No one should be forced to choose between exercising their constitutional right to vote and risking exposure to the virus. In Wisconsin, where this happened on April 7, at least seven people known to have participated in that day’s election have been diagnosed with COVID-19.

It can be challenging and unsettling to make sense of all of this, especially when some elected officials and people in the media either don’t understand what they’re talking about or knowingly say things that are wrong, misleading, or contradictory. They make it hard to sift through our non-stop news feeds to find credible voices of experience and expertise and to remain focused on finding a safe and reasonable path out of this mess.

That is exactly the reason we created The American Leader: to help bring those credible voices to the surface, to collect the essential datapoints and connect the dots, and to explain the progress we’re making on the systemic problems that shape our lives. That is why, today, we have published a brief on the COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis.

When the crisis eventually subsides and attention is naturally diverted elsewhere, we’ll still be here putting a spotlight on these systemic problems and the many Americans who are bold enough or angry enough or innovative enough to pursue solutions in business and government that will change the old normal for fellow citizens who deserve better.

For now, to paraphrase Matt Damon’s character in The Martian, “You do the math. You solve one problem, then you solve the next one and then the next and if you solve enough problems you get to go back to work.”

Originally published at https://theamericanleader.org on April 22, 2020.



George Linzer

Launched The American Leader to report on American democracy through a problem-solving lens with expectations of greater accountability in business government