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COVID-19 Policy Change - Accurate Essays

COVID-19 Policy Change

Effects of Covid-19 on Policy Change

The paper falls into two parts; part A and part B. The first section focuses on the effects of COVID-19 on policy change. Two theories; path dependence theory and diffusion model – help to understand why the pandemic could be a reason enough for policymakers to advocate for change. According to path dependence theory, institutions hardly change formulated policies unless when it is very inevitable. Another theory that may help to understand how COVID-19 is impacting governments to change policy is policy diffusion, which drives governments to change their policies when they feel that similar adoptions by other nations have beneficial outcomes. Part B of the paper addresses how Trump faced opposition in his attempts to assign more power to the government to take care of lands dedicated to endangered species. Both sections provide valuable information that help to understand the key concepts when changing or considering changing policy.

Part A – COVID-19 and Policy Change

The emergence of COVID-19 in 2020 disrupted many aspects of life, and nearly brought the world at a standstill at a time when the virus was spreading very fast and organizations and countries had to take stiff measures to suppress further spread of the virus. The virus that broke out in China spread very quickly sending a wave of panic across the world. The way things happen in the political arena and in the formation of policies were not spared with the health pandemic. Certain policies had to change to fit into the new world order that focuses on minimizing the spread of the virus as much as possible. Using relevant theories to explain how the pandemic affected policy change provides much awareness about the potential impact of the outbreak, especially policy formation. The analysis further determine that the pandemic has highlighted concerns of inequities, particularly by examining how social construction impacts on the decisions by policy makers. The study indicates that COVID-19 has impacted significantly on policy formation at the national level and at the global levels.

One of the theories of policy change that may help to understand why COVID-19 impacted on policy change is the path dependence theory. The framework holds that it is usually difficult to transform policies due to the fact that institutions are sticky, and actors tend to safeguard the existing models even if they are not very effective (Cerna 4). Path dependence implies that once a nation or region has commenced down a track, the effects and financial impact of reversing are unbearable. Formal institutions and public policies according to Cerna are formed to be difficult to alter so that past decisions promote the continuity of policies (4). The theory implies that for a policy change to happen, policymakers should wait for a suitable moment or a window of opportunity known as conjuncture. In this case policy change had to happen because the virus was spreading very fast putting the lives of many people at risk. Based on the path independence theory, it was inevitable that policy makers change policies to create a scenario where people are not in threat (Cerna 4). Moreover, it was inevitable that the change had to happen. COVID-19 in this case according to the path dependence theory serves as a policy window that John Kingdon describe as unexpected happening or occurrences in policy formation that establish the likelihood for impact over the outcomes and direction of the process.

Another theory that describe policy change that occurred as a result of the emergence of COVID-19 is the policy diffusion model. Similar to other theoretical frameworks of policy change, policy diffusion is an approach where a change in policy structures in one country or government spreads from one part of the world to the other. Policy diffusion in other words refers to a process where knowledge concerning administrative guidelines, policies, and institutions in one place or time (Cerna 7). Proponents of the policy diffusion model identify four primary mechanisms associated with the framework. The four primary elements are; learning from early adopters, economic rivalry, coercion, and imitation. Learning according to Cerna is the process that drives states to be known as laboratories of democracy (7). Policymakers in this case can gain valuable lessons from the encounters of other governments, if a similar policy in other places has produced prosperous outcomes. In this case, a country may have to change its policies to fit with the current situation where COVID-19 is changing how things happen in many aspects when it feels that such changes in other places have positive impact in minimizing infection (Cerna 7). The second component, economic rivalry, can result in diffusion of guidelines with economic spillovers across different jurisdictions. Policymakers often take into account the economic implications of adoption of lack of adoption. For instance, if there were positive results, them the governments are highly likely to embrace the policies of others, which may not be the case when referring to negative spillovers (Cerna 7). A nation in this case may be prompted to change its policies if it feels that a similar adoption will impact positively on its economy.

The other aspects of the policy diffusion framework are imitation and coercion. Imitation is the act of copying the actions of others with the objective of looking like them. The focus in imitation lies on the activities of the other state. Learning pays attention to the action (the policy being embraced by another government (Cerna 8). Imitation, on the other hand, pays attention to the actor, or the other state that is embracing the policy. Consequently, a country may alter its health policy to direct that it is compulsory for all citizens to get the COVID-19 vaccine when it realizes that other governments are emphasizing on this area. The final aspect, coercion, is unique from the rest which are not compulsory (Cerna 8). For example, nations can coerce each other through economic restrictions or trading practice, either through international entities or directly. For example, many nations have now influenced each other that it may be difficult to enter another territory without providing that some has received the COVID-19 vaccine. It is apparent based on both theories of policy change that COVID-19 has much impact that may compel governments to alter their policies.

Part B – Endangered Species Act (ESA)

The President enjoys many powers, including the capacity to alter legislations or alter policies. The powers are articulated under Article II of the constitution. In addition to legislative powers, the president enjoys judicial powers, military powers, diplomatic powers, and executive powers. Presidents have the authority to give an executive order that are not subject to much public scrutiny than are regulatory and legislation policy formation (Cook and Bero). Such powers landed President Trump into trouble with some officials from particular states countered the president’s decision to assign too much power to the government to take charge of environments caring for endangered animals and plants (Urban). The states assert that the regulations, which widen the description of species habitat, provide the federal government excessive power over private and state lands (Davenportand Friedman). The regulations govern the execution of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) that was developed during Barack Obama’s leadership (Urban). Interveners from various states asked Trump to repeal the law, claiming that it will cost private land owners and states billions of dollars by obstructing or hindering their utilization or advancement of their properties. Officials from dozens of state think that the initiative by Trump is a plan by the federal government to grab land (Urban). The tussle leads the team championing for the protection of endangered species to believe that Trump’s administration and Republican-led Congress will be aggressive to the growing definitions of habitat. A leader at a not-for-profit conversation initiative (Brett Hartl) believes that it is still early but the U.S. is gearing up for a deadly fight (Urban). According to Hartl, federal agencies will play a passive role than ever witnessed before, and contents that with the new administration, it is not likely some forms such wildlife and fish will not exist in some years to come (Urban). Hence, it is apparent the development of ESA was marred by controversy.

The venue that ESA is formed provide valuable information about the policy process. It shows that a policy process is likely to succeed when those taking part in the initiative consider the factors that may produce effective outcomes while avoiding ineffective outcomes. For example, the incident reveals the importance of maintaining effective communication with all stakeholders to avoid scenarios where criticisms emerge later when some parties start to feel otherwise. Moreover, it emerges that leaders or policymakers who tend to be bureaucratic in their approaches are less likely to achieve impressive results when dealing with a policy process. Thus, it is vital to ensure that everything run as smoothly as anticipated. Furthermore, policy process becomes more efficient when needed resources are available. For example, it is important to ensure that the needed information and physical facilities such as buildings, supplies, and equipment are available.

The theory of policy change that best describes Trump’s action is punctuated equilibrium. The model implies that an idea may become unstoppable and will grow significantly once a concept or idea gets much attention (Cerna 9). Many ideologies are grappling for attention but then something emerges at a particular point. The process emanates from external happenings that interfere with the political structure, especially those that may tamper with the equilibrium (Cerna 9). In Trump’s case, the ongoing debates concerning the management of environments dedicated to endangered species led him to issue the executive order. Thus, it could be argued that happenings in the external environment led Trump to attempt to change policy.

It was not the first time President Trump came into the limelight for engaging in a policy change process that evoked controversy. In his first moth of officer, the President utilized executive action in multiple occasions. He enacted a ban on entry into the U.S. from various Muslim-based nations for approximately three months (Shtrakhman). He also fast-tracked some of the projects that he valued during his initial days in office. However, Trump’s executive orders do not surpass that of Franklin Roosevelt who issued more than 3,400 orders, by far the most of any American president to date (Shtrakhman). Obama only issued not more than 276 during his two terms in power. Claims emerged that Trump failed to follow certain approaches that would lead to change in law such as seeking the ruling of the Supreme Court and engaging the Congress (Shtrakhman). A similar opposition was witnessed during President George Bush’s following his announcement of the executive order (EO) 13233 that permitted former presidents and former vice presidents to continue having access to some government documents (Shtrakhman). Opposition emerged from different directions, which derailed the implementation of the Further Implementation of the Presidential Records Act (Shtrakhman). Consequently, presidents learn the importance of considering possible controversies that may emerge when they attempt to change policy.


The study falls into two sections. The first part describes how COVID-19 has impacted policy change in many places where the pandemic has had devastating outcomes. Examining two theories of policy change helps to understand why the pandemic could impact on policy change. The path dependence policy implies that institutions hardly change policies unless when it is very necessary. In this case, COVID-19 presents as a threatening ailment that governments must restructure certain policies to avoid an escalation in infection. Furthermore, avoiding making necessary changes could result in deaths. Another theory that helps to understand why COVID-19 presents enough threat to warrant policy change in the policy diffusion model. Part B of the paper examines the tussle that engulfed the development and implementation of ESA.

Works Cited

Cerna, Lucie. The Nature of Policy Change and Implementation: A Review of Different Theoretical Approaches. OECD, 2013.

Cook, Daniel and Lisa Bero. “The Politics of Smoking in Federal Buildings: An Executive Order Case Study.” AJPH, 2011,

Davenport, Carlo and Lisa Friedman. “Lawmakers, Lobbyists and the Administration Join Forces to Overhaul the Endangered Species Act.” New York Times, July 22, 2018, Accessed 9 Dec. 2021.

Shtrakhman, Darina. “Reversing Executive Action: A Case Study of Bush’s EO 13233.” California Law Review, April, 2017, Accessed 9 Dec. 2021.

Urban, Peter. “States Attack U.S. Endangered Species Act Rules.” Scientific American, March 7, 2017, Accessed 9 Dec. 2021.

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