Social media continues to be the primary battleground in a war of words between those who feel the coronavirus restrictions that were put into place months ago should be relaxed or eliminated and those who believe it is too soon to return to normal.

What continues to be surprising is the chasm between younger folks who remain afraid of the virus and a premature return to normalcy and the older set, many of whom are simply taking it all in stride. One thing is for certain, most voters questioned for a recent Rasmussen Reports poll do not believe the U.S. response to the outbreak was strong enough.

Fifty percent of respondents to the poll believe the country underreacted to COVID-19 while only 27 percent feel the country overreacted, and 21 percent think the response was just about right. Forty-six percent of Republican voters believe there was an overreaction while 67 percent of Democrats and 58 percent of Independents say the country has underreacted.

With so few deaths recorded by comparison to what was forecast, how can the case be made that not enough was done? Hospital ships, field hospitals, and ventilators that were made available but never used are evidence that the U.S. reacted as it should to the threat. Local politicians' refusal to reopen their economies is proof that we have overreacted.

The numbers indicate that the majority of Americans had the bejeezus scared out of them by the coronavirus and that many are still not sure we are out of the woods yet. A lot of that fear was ginned up by flawed projections of deaths, worries about the strength of our medical capacity, a media set on superhype mode, and politicians who preached fear and paranoia.

The truth of the matter is that the outbreak was not nearly as severe as had been forecast. America's medical capabilities survived the crisis and were never even seriously challenged. But the media and the politicians keep on pounding the drumbeat of fear. It is no wonder that so many people feel as though there was an underreaction to the crisis.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at barry@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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