NEW ORLEANS — When you combine a pandemic, protests and politics, that can be a combustible formula.
“What we’re seeing is an extreme level of polarization on many fronts,” said Eyewitness News Political Analyst, Clancy Dubos.
The uncertain atmosphere was been weighing heavily on some people.
“There’s a whole lot going on. It’s gotten me kind of shaky,” said Nelson Bumgarner.
“I have to have a lot of private space to balance it out because. It’s very disturbing, extremely disturbing,” said Frances Swigart.
To prevent the spread of COVID-19, health officials have consistently told the public they should wear a mask or face covering. Bumgarner said he wears one for a simple reason.
“Basically to protect myself and other people because a lot of symptoms are going around, and people don’t even know they have it,” said Bumgarner.
Many Republicans, including the president, have refused to wear a mask. Instead, they’ve put a heavier emphasis on the need to revive the economy. Bumgarner said he was astounded at the president’s recent rally in Tulsa.
“Basically nobody had a mask on, and I didn’t understand that. I saw it as a political thing. I don’t know why, but maybe they think they can’t get it,” said Bumgarner. "But they can spread it."
“It’s gotten to the point that wearing a mask is a political statement, and it’s not,” Dubos said. "It’s a human statement about a pandemic that is killing people everywhere on the planet."
Perhaps, to no one’s surprise, there’s also division on the issue of racial justice and how to achieve it. Frances Swigart said it’s time the country confronts racism.
“Particularly when it’s a difficult problem, you need to say, look you can’t get around this. You got to face it,” said Swigart.
There’s no ambiguity in Bumgarner’s stance.
“For Black people, for the past 400 plus years, it’s like the majority doesn’t want us to move. 'You stay under our feet. You do what we tell you to.' That kind of thing, and I’m not digging that either,” said Bumgarner.
As frustrating and maddening as this time may be, Dubos offers a bit of historical perspective.
“This is part of the cycle of history. We had this in the 60s with the Civil Rights movement, Vietnam, and women’s liberation,” said Dubos.
Early on in the pandemic, viewers heard phrases like “We’re in this together, and we’ll get through this together,” but as COVID-19 continues to spread, I wonder if those sayings are just wishful thinking.