Determining Domestic Political Influences within the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Research Paper
Author:Dedas, Zach, Engineering UndergraduateUniversity of Virginia

The United States has witnessed an immense impact as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic in the form of both public health strain and economic contraction. With large case and death tolls, the pandemic has placed an uncharacteristic strain on the national public health ecosystem. Varying lockdown measures employed by United States political actors have resulted in widespread business closure, unemployment, and decline in household income (Coibion et al. 2020). Thus, there exists the necessity to unveil the structure of value within the context of the national public health and varying political agendas across state and federal government leaders. Through this understanding, an assessment of how political actors make decisions based on the data presented to them, as well as their biases in interpreting and extrapolating this data, will allow for a greater understanding of how political agendas drive decision making in crisis moving forward.
Using the COVID-19 pandemic and respective public policy employed by political actors across states a case study, there also exists an opportunity to gain a greater understanding of the ways in which science, such as models and subsequently drawn conclusions, informs policy at a higher level. The use of science in informing public policy has been widely debated for decades as many individuals, beginning in the 20th century, began to suggest that the use of science and the evidence it suggests allows for the rescue of policy from political biases and influences. While compelling, there seems to be a misunderstanding in this assertion in that science cannot cleanly be separated from politics; in actuality, public policy is precisely the point of union between science, politics, and values. Additionally, information continuously flows into the sphere of influence, and the ever-changing nature of science and the information it produces should be considered and understood within the context of public policy (Prewitt et. al 2012). With this understanding of the union of science and politics, recommendations can be made regarding the use of science in informing public policy.

All rights reserved (no additional license for public reuse)
Contributor:Ferguson, SeanUniversity of Virginia
University of Virginia
Published Date:
May 20, 2021