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The COVID-19 chasm

The pandemic divides Americans—even Christians

The COVID-19 chasm

Saturate OC worship service on Huntington Beach. (Greg Schneider/Genesis)

When Americans turned their gazes toward the coronavirus early this year, many speculated it would wane in the summer heat. Instead, the opposite happened: As temperatures climbed this summer, so have coronavirus infection rates. On July 24 alone, scientists recorded about 74,000 new cases. Though mortality figures haven’t risen as severely, the United States was approaching 150,000 coronavirus deaths as July closed.

Seth Wenig/AP

St. Agnes Church in Paterson, N.J. (Seth Wenig/AP)

Americans are divided over the coronavirus. Some take it seriously; some don’t. Some believe the measures state and local governments have taken to limit its spread are worth it. Some believe they’re overreach.

The three stories on the next six pages examine those divisions but also the ways the coronavirus has changed all our lives. Sophia Lee’s report chronicles groups—especially Christians—who disagree vehemently about how to respond to COVID-19. Lynde Langdon, Sarah Schweinsberg, and Kyle Ziemnick spoke with people in America’s heartland—away from the cities that have received so much media attention—to see how the virus has changed their lives. Finally, Leah Hickman researched ways schools, churches, and businesses have refused all-or-nothing approaches and innovated their way forward—limiting the virus’s spread but not cutting off services (and jobs) for people who need them. Her story also underscores an important point: Americans have faced such challenges before. 

Michael Reneau

Michael Reneau

Michael Reneau is WORLD’s deputy editor. He is a World Journalism Institute and Bryan College graduate. He was editor of The Greeneville Sun newspaper before joining WORLD. Michael resides with his wife and four children in Greeneville, Tenn. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelReneau.


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    Posted: Sat, 08/01/2020 05:00 am

    "Americans are divided over the coronavirus." One reason is all the conflicting information we are receiving -- and information that we aren't receiving due to Big Tech's censoring -- especially information from medical professionals. A censored doctors' press conference on Monday, July 27, led me to Dr. James Todaro's website:

  • BF
    Posted: Mon, 08/03/2020 11:18 am

    If the government and media strived to be forthright perhaps we would all take the virus more seriously. When we see...

    -John Hopkins still reporting cumulative numbers on the main graph instead of active cases (are they trying to scare us?)

    -crowds of protesters not social distancing with no politician showing concern (even joining in). 

    -churches being limited more than casinos. 

    -multiple doctors being censored online by Google, Facebook, Twitter.

    -the CDC's website (you have to search hard for this) showing deaths from COVID dropping dramatically from mid-April, yet hardly a word of this good news reported. (Though deaths have indeed begun to go back up some.)

    -mask wearers behind a counter continually grabbing their wet mask then handing you your credit card with the same hand (and similar absurdities).

    -virtually all cases of death due to COVID also reporting, "they had underlying medical conditions." (Not every site will give this additional information)

    -New York's governor sending contagious COVID patients back to nursing homes and main stream media largely ignoring it.

    -the ancillary affects of a continued lockdown being minimized.

    -it's an election year.

    I don't mean to minimize the trauma people have suffered under Covid. Real people have died causing real grief and some parts of the world are currently getting hit hard. But a lot of us feel we're being manipulated. My own small town continues to report 24 local cases, yet I know that at least 7 were healed up long ago. None of them went to the hospital. We only hear bad news when we know there is some positive news, yet it's not reported. No wonder people are becoming jaded.


  • Steve Shive
    Posted: Tue, 08/04/2020 08:27 am

    Much could be said but I did want to comment about the headline that adds, "- even Christians." As if Christians can agree on anything more than the general population is able to do. If there is hardly a Bible verse that Christians don't argue about then we shouldn't be surprised at the current debates over COVID 19. I won't belabor the point.

    I must also add that I agree that there is much misinformation out there. But I would avoid using the "Frontline Doctors" news conference to support this or to illuminate the public's mind. I find it embarrassing to watch and listen to. It is clear that the "Frontline Doctors" with their white coats monogrammed for this special event... aren't Frontline experts. The female doctor that is angry about hiccups and hydroxychloroquine is a disaster for their argument. (What does NIH stand for?) There are no big names and one must wonder who they all really are.

    They might be correct in their assertions, but this press conference, or whatever it is, will change no one's mind. I suspect they are well meaning doctors but not experts and not a good advertisement for their side of this issue.

  • not silent
    Posted: Tue, 08/04/2020 08:14 pm

    Freedom of speech is important in a free society, but so is discernment.  Anyone can have an opinion, but we are responsible as citizens and good stewards to discern which opinions to believe and promote.

    I checked out the website and could not find much info about the person who started it. Other sources have said he was a doctor but is now an investment banker. I did not see any evidence that he was currently studying COVID or treating patients with it-most of what I saw had to do with oscure studies and the massaging of various statisics.  (Maybe Hannah has additional info about this?)

    Everyone is entitled to their opinions, of course; but, as a person in healthcare, I have to decide who I consider more credible when speaking about a pandemic: someone who claims to speak as a doctor but may or may not be an investment banker (and who is not currently treating COVID patients) or the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (i.e., Dr. Fauci) and the doctors who ARE treating COVID patients. 

    Atheists also have freedom of speech, and they often use it to share all kinds of misinformation about Christianity and the Bible online.  It's one thing to get into debates with atheists on secular forums, but that doesn't mean I think they should have equal time in our pulpits to present their misinformation in our churches!    

    With great freedom comes great responsibility. I know quite a few doctors personally who have ACTUALLY treated COVID patients; and, based on current info, they and I choose Dr. Fauci.

    Posted: Wed, 08/05/2020 02:41 pm

    "Freedom of speech is important in a free society, but so is discernment.  Anyone can have an opinion, but we are responsible as citizens and good stewards to discern which opinions to believe and promote."
    I agree with you, not silent. The point of my comment was that Big Tech is not allowing free speech, and I simply made available a link that provides information and opinions that have been censored (or "canceled") by Big Tech. I agree that we need to be discerning, and I value your medical experience.