Bernie Sanders Suspends Presidential Campaign
It’s only April, but 2020 has seen a lot of chaos in such a short time due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Nobody is sure how this will affect this year’s election, and presidential campaigns have all but been put on hold as candidates follow social distancing and try to seek out supporters without holding the traditional rallies. While the Republicans evidently plan to put forward President Trump for a second term, the Democratic Party has been attempting to hold primaries to decide its candidate. The race now appears to be finished – unless there is a last-minute twist. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has suspended his campaign, leaving former Vice President Joe Biden as the only candidate left standing.
Although Sanders was already trailing behind former Biden in the bid for a spot in the 2020 presidential election, the COVID-19 restrictions likely contributed to his decision to suspend his campaign on April 8. Technically, however, Sanders is still a candidate for the election. His decision to put his campaign on hold doesn’t mean he has officially dropped out of the race. The Vermont senator said he plans to stay on the ballot during the next primary state votes, which means he would continue to collect delegates. Although he admitted that Biden would likely win the Democratic Party nomination, Mr. Sanders’ supporters will still be able to vote for him.
Social distancing has made it difficult for candidates who have had to find other ways to reach the public. Some states have tried to cancel their primaries while others have made all voting by mail-in ballots or postponed the events until a later date. These decisions make campaigning especially difficult as this is the time candidates normally use to reach out to their supporters and hopefully gain more from their opponents.
Instead, the presidential hopefuls have tried other methods to reach the American people. Sanders has made numerous appearances on media shows, and Biden is trying his hand at podcasts.
Easter and Palm Sunday in the Year of Coronavirus
With Easter around the corner, many are wondering how to celebrate the holiday while social distancing. Some families are finding it difficult to travel to the store to buy Easter Eggs, and the usual Easter egg hunts are off the table this year. That doesn’t mean Americans can’t find new ways to celebrate, however. Some neighborhoods have set up hunts where kids can walk around their areas and spot items left in neighbor’s windows. Other families might try baking hot cross buns or learning about the story of Easter.
Despite the Christian nature of the holiday, most people will not be able to go to church. Instead, some pastors may hold online services. In the Catholic faith, the Vatican will be holding services without attendance from the public but will broadcast the events over radio, TV, and the internet. Palm Sunday may give us some clues about what to expect this Easter.
Palm Sunday is the end of Lent and the beginning of Holy Week, and this year it was on April 5. It celebrates Jesus Christ’s arrival in Jerusalem, just a few days before he was crucified. According to the Gospels, Jesus arrived in Jerusalem riding a donkey instead of a horse, which symbolizes humbleness and that he came in peace. As he rode through town, villagers tossed clothes, palm branches, and other items to pay homage.
To this day, palm branches are still used for this commemoration. They are a symbol of peace. During Mass on Palm Sunday, palm leaves are blessed and then handed out to parishioners who then will carry them as they walk into church. Sometimes the leaves are assembled into small crosses that are held by the worshippers.
The palm leaves can be kept for a year or returned to the church, but they cannot be thrown away since they were blessed. Once gathered, the leaves are incinerated and the ashes from them will be used for the next year’s Ash Wednesday.
This year was quite different from centuries of celebrations as the Coronavirus pandemic and stay-at-home orders kept the faithful from attending any services. Usually, Palm Sunday at the Vatican would be celebrated outdoors in front of thousands of parishioners and tourists. But this year Pope Francis celebrated by holding a mass in St. Peter’s Basilica behind closed doors with only a few priests and nuns and a smaller choir in attendance, and they all practiced social distancing during the service. Palm Sunday Mass was televised so that people could still follow the service, but the experience is not nearly the same as attending in person.
The closing of churches in the United States has sparked serious debate on whether the government is infringing on constitutional rights by restricting holy services. Some say that during a pandemic crisis such as now, the government has every right to do what is necessary to protect the public, while others argue Big Brother has no right to interfere in peoples’ faith. The issue has not yet been resolved, so this weekend’s Easter services will likely be much like Palm Sunday.
Chinese Lockdown Comes to an End
As countries around the world enter lockdown and people are made to stay at home to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus, the nation where the disease originated – China – is finally letting its people outside. Wuhan, the city where the SARS-CoV-2 virus was first seen, in December 2019, has ended its quarantine after 77 days. The city is now attempting to get back to normal life, despite concerns that letting people out and about could lead to a second wave of the outbreak. Residents are hoping to pick up where they left off – but the process is slow. Adults are allowed to go back to work, business and malls are opening again, but schools remain closed. Some celebrated by heading to the stores, or the local parks, but others were impatient to leave the area. As soon as the lockdown ended, thousands started leaving the city. Those who have been cleared of the disease were issued special clearance codes on their phones, which allows them to use public transport or leave the region.
“Wuhan can never go back to be what it was like before the outbreak. Neither can its residents. But we need to continue living alongside our traumas,” said Guo Jing, a 29-year-old Wuhan resident.
“Now everyone in China is vigilant against Wuhan residents, fearing that we are virus carriers. As a result, I have decided not to leave the city for the rest of the year, unless I can’t avoid it,” said 38-year-old Xiao Lu, a Wuhan native.
Wuhan was not the only Chinese city in lockdown – the country as a whole has ended its enforced two-month isolation period, and immediately saw a surge in travelers. People flocked to tourist destinations, which were densely crowded. Photos taken at the popular Huangshan mountain park in Anhui province show thousands of people squeezed together, as they got outside after being freed from their homes. In fact, the park managers were forced to close at 7.48 a.m., saying the venue had already reached its daily capacity of 20,000 visitors.
In the large cities of Beijing and Shanghai, shoppers filled the streets, people exercised in the parks and visited scenic sites, while restaurants were full.
Is this what the United States and other countries who were affected by the virus later than China can expect in a few weeks?
People are happy to return to normal life, but some are warning that people crowding together could hasten the spread of the disease, and lead to a second and third wave of Coronavirus infections.