I assumed we could trust the government and each other during the pandemic. I was wrong.

When I was little, I thought my mother was a superhero. She seemed to know everything. She could solve my homework problems with ease and had an answer to every question. She always knew how to make me feel better.

As a child, it’s hard to understand that your parents are people, too. They have flaws. They make mistakes, and when it comes to parenting, they’re often just guessing. But you don’t know that until you’re older.

I don’t remember the exact moment when I realized that my mom was imperfect. But I think it was one of the hardest parts of growing up. Knowing that my mom can be mean or selfish.

It’s a difficult truth, but it’s one we all must learn.

The pandemic has given me that same feeling about our country.

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I am not so naive that I blindly trusted the government without any skepticism before 2020 – I am a journalist after all. But I always assumed they’d be more prepared for something like the pandemic. I had hoped that when things took a turn for the worst, we would unite and the government would always act in our best interest.

I was wrong.

People wait in line to receive a COVID-19 test on Jan. 4, 2022, in New York City.
People wait in line to receive a COVID-19 test on Jan. 4, 2022, in New York City.

I live in New York City, where COVID-19 cases surged right before Christmas leading to outrageously long testing lines because the city had shut down testing sites before. This problem wasn’t only in New York. Similar situations happened throughout the USA.

Previously, I lived in Indiana, where Gov. Eric Holcomb dropped the mask mandate in April, despite the evidence that masks are an important tool in preventing COVID-19 infections.

For so many young people, we haven’t been given many reasons to trust our government. Politicians' tones have shifted from unity and hope to giving up and letting the unvaccinated die.

Data from the Pew Research Center shows that my generation, Gen Z, has the lowest trust in the government compared with other generations. It’s easy to see why.

I don’t think there is a deep state conspiracy to create a one-world government or that the “elites” are trying to control the population. But I do think many institutions have worked in the interest of corporations and money instead of people. And other times, the government has just blundered in ways that hurt citizens.

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Just recently, the CEO of Delta Air Lines asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to change the isolation period from 10 days to five. Then it happened.

Is a government institution that is supposed to have our best interest bowing to CEOs of major companies instead of protecting the health of workers?

It feels like politicians are starting to give up hope, or at least accept that this is our new reality.

President Joe Biden told a group of governors that "there is no federal solution" to the pandemic.

Then who does have the solution? Biden's apparent loss of hope for a national plan to work is causing me, and likely many others, to want to give up, too. Despite clear evidence that boosters are helpful in preventing COVID-19 infections, I have family members who won’t get it. Even though masks are important, I can’t persuade all of my friends and family in Indiana to wear them when they go out in public.

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Despite a COVID-19 spike, I have friends who went out to celebrate New Year’s Eve, and several have tested positive. And these people are not anti-vaxxers. They don’t believe the pandemic is a hoax. They don’t even disagree that boosters and masks are helpful.

They just don’t want to do it anymore.

But I refuse to be so disappointed that I am left without hope.

I am hopeful that our government will have our best interest. I am hopeful that things will get better.

There are reasons for that hope: There seem to be technological breakthroughs like the Merck and Pfizer pills, omicron being so contagious but not as deadly may help with immunity, and there’s even more evidence being released that vaccines are safe. Most Americans are vaccinated. I’ve been able to persuade almost all of my loved ones to get vaccinated and start wearing masks indoors again.

I want to trust institutions like the CDC, my governor, my mayor and the White House. I want these institutions to put the needs of all Americans in front of the desires of CEOs to make more money.

Like my mother, I want our leaders and our communities to work past their flaws and do what's best for us all. They don't need to be perfect. They just need to be better.

Jaden Amos is a member of the Editorial Board and a digital producer for USA TODAY Opinion. Follow her on Twitter: @jadenamos

You can read diverse opinions from our Board of Contributors and other writers on the Opinion front page, on Twitter @usatodayopinion and in our daily Opinion newsletter. To respond to a column, submit a comment to letters@usatoday.com.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Biden's COVID plan: I was wrong to trust government on the pandemic