The Hydra is an ancient Greek mythical beast, mentioned in the tales of Hercules, that was said to have the body of a dragon with many heads, two arms and legs with knifelike claws, sharp spikes, and a long serpent tail. If the heads were cut off, two heads would grow back in its place.

The coronavirus pandemic reminds me of Hydra’s body, with its spikes and poisonous breath. Its multiple heads are the outgrowths of chaos seemingly attacking all areas of domestic life.

President Joe Biden has yet to show substantial progress in the Herculean task of fighting the heads of this beast. In part because of this, he will be celebrating his first year in office with dismal approval ratings, which have dropped to 33%, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll, the lowest mark during his first year. Quinnipiac polling analyst Tim Malloy blames the coronavirus as the main factor behind Biden’s slide. “It’s a looming cloud over the country right now and over the presidency.”

Many of the issues that Americans may feel are out of control stem from the effects of the pandemic. Lack of testing, disruptions to our children’s education, empty grocery shelves, inflation, increase in violent crime, and vaccine misinformation are all heads of the monster.

Right as the winter holidays were approaching, the omicron variant swept through America. In many states, including Missouri, the delta variant was still wreaking havoc. At-home coronavirus tests flew off the shelves as people prepared to travel or to see loved ones. Tests now are nearly impossible to find, and lines are long at coronavirus testing sites. In a December interview with ABC News, Biden said he wished he had ordered 500 million free at-home tests two months prior, which would have been October. He didn’t, so here we are.

School districts across the country have been struggling to keep up with the science behind the omicron variant. Children, parents, teachers and staff, and school administrators have been dealing with changing public health guidelines and staffing shortages. Back and forth between onsite and remote learning. Add the teachers unions in the mix, and there is quite a bit of pandemonium. Teachers, staff and students alike are home sick. Those same school districts are fighting with politicians over mask mandates. These disruptions to education cannot be good for children’s social, emotional or educational well-being.

Advertisement

Grocery store shelves are frequently empty. Labor shortages due to the pandemic and winter storms have piled on to the supply chain struggles.

The prices of goods and services in the U.S. continue to rise at rates unseen in decades, jumping to 7% in December. Inflation is rising across the globe, not only in the United States. Gregory Daco, chief U.S. economist at Oxford Economics, attributes the problem to coronavirus disruption. “That’s the key reason why we’re seeing inflationary pressures around the world,” he told Vox.com.

The U.S. experienced a dramatic rise in violent crime during the height of the pandemic in 2020. According to the FBI’s “Uniform Crime Report” for 2020, there was a nearly 30% increase in murders, the largest single-year jump since the bureau began recording crime statistics six decades ago. The surge in killings drove an overall 5% increase in violent crime in 2020. It is easy to see and feel the increase in crime with images strewn across social media of empty boxes and packages strewn along train tracks after thieves had broken into cargo trains in Los Angeles. Mobs are attacking department stores in some cities and running off with items.

One particularly unruly head of the beast has been vaccine disinformation. In December 2020, five leading Democrats from the House and Senate urged Biden to name an expert at countering misinformation to his coronavirus task force, citing statistics showing that 4 in 10 Americans opposed being vaccinated against the coronavirus. “The COVID-19 infodemic is about to dangerously intersect with a misinformation-laden anti-vaccine movement that has led to tragic consequences in our country,” they wrote. The Biden administration did not heed their advice and has, in my opinion, done little to combat vaccine misinformation.

Biden did make a swipe at one head of the beast with his vaccine mandate for large companies. Last week, the Supreme Court blocked his rule requiring workers at companies with at least 100 employees to be vaccinated or masked and tested weekly.

The chaos of this monster is frightening Americans. What we need now is a hero. Will the president step up and strike at the heads of this beast? Of course, that remains to be seen, but until he does, expect his approval ratings to remain low.

Lynn Schmidt is a columnist and Editorial Board member of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

©2022 STLtoday.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.