Why is the Corona Virus a topic on ResistanceMom? I’ve got my first editorial on the subject right here:
The new corona virus, or COVID-19, epidemic is going to be a topic on my show for a number of reasons. First, the story of this virus in the United States is also a story of corruption: The gutting of epidemic logistical teams by the Trump administration, limiting the availability of tests, and the muzzling of our public health officials. It’s the story of an American healthcare system that profits from our illnesses and writes off our deaths, refusing to create testing options for people who have no insurance.
Combating corruption is part of the work of democracy. Accurate information to guide decision-making is fundamental to the exercise of democracy. In a democratic state the government works to protect its people. A country that puts the health of the stock market ahead of stopping a pandemic is criminally undemocratic.
Corona virus also has my attention because I have asthma, so an infection, for me, would be really dangerous. The messages from administration leaders are echoed back by people all around me. “This is really just a version of the flu.” “Washing your hands should be all you need to do to protect yourself.” “People die every year from the flu so we should be more concerned about that.”
The World Health Organization today said that 3.4% of COVID-19 cases so far have resulted in death. We don’t have a full picture of how many people are asymptomatic, which will change the numbers, but the virus is overwhelming healthcare systems of countries that are currently affected.
Say 97% of people who get this virus will live – that’s great, right? No. It’s not great. COVID-19 is considered so contagious that some estimates are that 70% of the population will catch it. A 3% mortality rate forecasts more than six millions of deaths in the United States alone. It would completely overwhelm our healthcare system and precipitate an economic recession.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Countries that are cancelling public gatherings and maintaining social-isolation with a high level of higiene have dramatically slowed the rate of infection. As we heard from Professor Fast in Hong Kong this week, their 7 million residents had only 105 confirmed cases as of last week, despite their border with China. Infection controls work if you do them.
In contrast, Trump and other Republican leaders have downplayed the seriousness of the corona virus. Telling people, ‘most of you will be alright’, ignores the catastrophic effect this will have on our health care infrastructure and lessons from other countries. We will not be alright if hospitals are overwhelmed and doctors and nurses themselves have to head for quarantine.
Corona is also going to be a topic on Resistance Mom because I think it will take organizing and action to get the testing, care and prevention measures our community needs. The millions of us who have built up our protest muscles since 2016 will likely need to mobilize to demand public health measures that are basic standards of care worldwide.
New York State is testing thousands of people every day now while Florida has tested under 300 total. An infectious disease specialist I know chuckled when he heard that and said, “well that’s cause we’re Florida and we’re just always behind.” But Florida has fewer resources to combat COVID-19 because we have a Republican Governor and legislature cooperating with Trump’s strategy of limiting testing in order to limit evidence of a problem.
An ER nurse in my county told me today that she is treating people with the symptoms of COVID-19 but when their doctors request they be tested, the state of Florida says no. Even ones who get permission to be tested are sent home to wait 48 hours for their results, with no resources to protect the community they are in contact with. The nurse asked to get herself tested and was refused. The corona virus can show no symptoms in people for 14 days, during which time they are highly contagious, meaning she could be exposing all her subsequent patients and family to the corona virus.
If we’re going to get testing it’s going to be because citizens speak up loudly to demand it. If you live in the United States and you have elected officials working to protect your community from this virus, good for you. Organizing work will be needed everywhere help people get through this health crisis and likely economic downtown. But if you’re in a red state like we are you will probably need to organize your community just to get basic infection controls and testing.
Talk to doctors, nurses and home health aides in your community. Find people who would be willing to speak out to demand widespread access to testing and adequate protective equipment for all caregivers. Call a press conference. Reach out to nurses unions, the SEIU, and supportive local officials. Just getting a handful of front line providers to join you in speaking out would make an impact.
I know I get incredible care from our local community acupuncture clinic. I want to work to get them protective masks and gloves so they can stay healthy and keep providing the care they offer.
We are prone in this country to think we’ll be fine. Lots of Floridians stay in their homes during hurricanes, even though occasionally that will turn out to be a big mistake. Trump’s own disinterest in our well-being doesn’t mean there isn’t a threat. A belief in American exceptionalism won’t save us here. Neither will our healthcare infrastructure necessarily be more resistant to corruption than our State Department or Justice Department have been.
I fear we’re counting on our institutions saving us from the incompetence and indifference of our President. I am getting to work organizing because I think Elizabeth Warren’s slogan is true, that we won’t get anything we don’t fight for.