In this edition of Seen and Heard, we asked people about President Donald Trump’s positive COVID test, the ruling of Michigan’s Supreme Court overruling the mask mandate, and the current political climate.
Trump getting diagnosed with COVID was shocking to some, however, others believed that it was going to eventually happen due to his lax mask wearing and large gatherings.
“When I first heard the news my initial reaction was quite petty,” said Kali Foreman, 18 of Lowell. “I felt he got a taste of his own medicine by not social distancing and not following CDC guidelines. I also thought it might be fake and just for attention. Once I calmed down and found out he was going to a hospital, I realized nobody deserves to be sick and affected by this virus. Donald Trump then tweeted something about how nobody should be afraid of the virus. This made me quite upset because he got the best of the best treatment that the average American would not receive given the circumstances. It’s hard for me to feel empathetic for him when he fails to feel empathetic for the average American and then 200,000 people… died due to the virus he neglected to handle.”
“He hasn’t really handled the situation well,” said Alberto Maldonado, 18, of Grand Rapids. “Trump did not act quickly which has devastated a bunch of people. I have lost even family members to it, and it’s not pleasant going to funerals. Him now getting the virus is kind of an example of how dangerous this could be and a serious example of what is needed during times of catastrophe. You can’t really mess around with this virus. So, for him, what goes around comes around.”
“I think it was inevitable,” said Olivia Holbrook, 20, of Allendale. “This is based on the very beginning. He did not change the way he was handling his job and continued to not wear a mask. He should have been more respectful to those who did not have accessible access to medical care like he did. He was arrogant and should have been more empathetic to those that did not have fair access to decent healthcare.”
“I thought it was pretty irresponsible especially about how he has been acting about this going on,” said Joanna Rangel, 18, of Holland. “I don’t know how I feel. I feel like that’s what you get when you don’t follow guidelines. It’s not like I wish (he) got COVID because nobody wishes that anybody got COVID because it is that dangerous, but when (he) is not following rules or guidelines it can be a little tough.”
“Initially, I was skeptical of his tweeted declaration stating he had contracted the virus,” said Cassandra Tiensivu, 41, of Comstock Park. “After all, it is difficult to suss out the truth when listening to the words of a pathological liar.”
“I believe that Trump getting COVID is a little ironic,” said Grace Compagner, 17, of Grand Haven. “He always made fun of Biden for wearing a mask and look where Trump is now, ridiculous. And then the fact that he went on Twitter and described it as something that is no big deal, I think that is completely irresponsible and quite offensive to the (more than) 200,000 people and their families who fell victim to this deadly illness.”
Michigan’s Supreme Court overturned the Governor’s mask mandate, stating that Governor Gretchen Whitmer was overstepping her boundaries. This is impacting many people in Michigan. While most are choosing to still wear their masks, others do think that Whitmer misused her power. This means that the state of emergency orders will be rescinded. Whitmer had been relying on the 1976 Emergency Management Act and the 1945 Emergency Powers Act to issue her orders. Those being required masks, limited crowd size, and closing certain businesses.
“I agree with the decision; she should not have this much power, but I am nervous about how people are going to act now that it is not in effect,” said Jacob Butler, 23, of Hastings. “There are people in sales positions that still have to tell people to wear a mask even without the order.”
“It definitely does, because I just had a newborn baby,” said Ashley Pike, 26, of Comstock Park. “Going home to my baby, I need to make sure I’m keeping myself safe. I definitely want to make sure we’re all staying safe here. I think it is still necessary (masks), because the numbers keep fluctuating. As far as businesses being open, they should be able to stay open as long as they’re following guidelines.”
“I think wearing a mask helps stop the spread of COVID-19, but I do think it was the right decision in being overturned,” said Hannah Wager, 19, of Allendale. “I will keep wearing my mask in public but do not think it should be a government mandated thing and do not think there should be criminal punishments from not wearing a mask.”
“It is extremely frustrating because no-maskers are even more adamant that they don’t need to wear masks in public now,” said Madison Sahagan-Bisson, 19, of Muskegon. “Suddenly, they know so much about how the government works and it is causing people to argue left and right on whether or not it is immediate or we have to wait 21 days for it to be in effect, meanwhile service workers are having to deal with an influx in rude customers who don’t want to wear masks and are now using this ruling as an excuse.”
“I’m not super informed about it but honestly I will probably still be wearing a mask in public and at work, just as a precaution and I do think that it protects you and others,” said Hanna Gust, 19, of Grand Rapids. “Even though I don’t necessarily like wearing them and they are uncomfortable, it’s not that big a deal to me just to wear it.”
“It is a shame that the Michigan Supreme Court decided to overturn Gov Whitmer’s mandates, which she put into place for the safety of all Michiganders,” said Tiensivu. “We are in the middle of a deadly pandemic. There is nothing fun or convenient about that for anyone. We are basically at war with an invisible enemy. Why we feel the need to then go to war with each other on top of that just boggles my mind. The governor is listening to the very real science evolving around this pandemic. It seems as though the Supreme Court is ignoring all of that in favor of playing politics. I certainly hope that is not the case, and that science will once again be looked upon as truth to be believed in and planned around accordingly.”
With the election 20 days away, many are preparing to vote by watching the debates, getting their mail-in ballots, and preparing to vote. This election has been one like we’ve never seen before, COVID is still impacting the United States and has been a large issue for both candidates. Many are voicing their concerns about the upcoming election, and it;s becoming a vote for the “lesser of two evils,” for a lot of voters.
“I’d say that I’m not super happy about it, both sides in my opinion aren’t really that great right now,” said Jared Finkel, 20, of Grand Rapids. “I’m mainly going to register to vote to get my voice out there, and I will mostly be voting for the lesser of two evils; pick your poison kind of thing.”
“I watched the presidential debate and that was a trainwreck,” said Sahagan-Bisson. “I think that voters are starting to lean towards Biden, or at least more than before, and I am hoping that Biden wins. I think he really has a chance. More and more young people are getting involved and are registering to vote. This is a really, really important election and people are actually starting to pay attention.”
“As a first time voter, I’m disappointed that these are the candidates that I have to choose from,” said Natalie Weaver, 19, of Palmetto, Florida. “The first presidential debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden showed how much immaturity and hypocrisy on both sides to the point that I am not looking forward to voting. As a whole, the us-versus-them mentality that Americans seem to have right now is heartbreaking to watch unfold. I wish we could figure out a way to unify ourselves with the desire to just be a better people as a whole.”