The COVID-19 pandemic has created, exacerbated and exposed division in America. One of the most prominent divisions in our country right now is the mistrust of science.
As a public school teacher, I am witnessing first-hand this mistrust of science in our nation’s youth and the institution that shapes them.
If we propagate skepticism of science to our children, who will save us from the next pandemic? Our country is divided over the very solution that will see us through to the end of this crisis.
As Americans slog through the pandemic, our elected officials continue to spew misinformation unsupported by science that puts lives in danger. It has become more important than ever to follow the advice of public health officials, especially scientists and doctors.
These frontline workers risk their lives everyday for our health and safety. They are the face of a new American heroism that motivates my students to become nurses, doctors and scientists.
Politicians publicly disparaging science only serves to deter the future doctors and public health officials of America.
We must continue to support the kind of innovation that has moved the U.S. forward in the past. Thanks to groundbreaking scientific developments, we now have vaccines for diseases that once killed millions of people.
In 1952, before the invention of the polio vaccine, the U.S. reported approximately 53,000 cases of polio. Ten years later, with a vaccine successfully distributed, there were less than 900 cases reported. This remarkable reduction in cases was made possible only through a collective belief in the power of science.
We can trust that we will get through this pandemic thanks to scientists working around the clock in labs and through private-public partnerships.
As we near eight months into the COVID-19 pandemic, there are more than 100 vaccines at various stages of development (some of which have already moved into the clinical trial stage) and the FDA has approved the emergency use of remdesivir for COVID-19.
This current vaccine development process is significantly faster compared to polio, which first appeared in the U.S. in 1894 but lacked an effective vaccine until 1955.
It is critical we trust public health experts and take advantage of the resources we have at our disposal as a result of American innovation. But innovation doesn’t stop with treatments and vaccines.
Innovations such as DoorDash to order food from local restaurants and Instacart to get groceries delivered straight to our doors have become critical during this time.
While some federal officials pushed for religious services to resume in-person prematurely, many churches across the country instead opted to listen to the recommendations of scientists like Dr. Deborah Birx, who advises places of worship to use online platforms such as Church Online to hold services remotely.
Through these innovations, we can slow the spread of the virus and save lives, all while supporting many of the small businesses trying to stay afloat during this pandemic.
We must continue to trust science, support innovation and listen to our public health leaders like Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx. Only then can we put an end to this crisis and build a foundation for our nation’s youth to battle future pandemics.
Daniel Ellis is a high school chemistry teacher from Denver.
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