Editorial: Coronavirus is Pointing Out the Holes in Our Ways of Thinking

As the coronavirus (COVID-19) winds its way through every aspect of our American lives, it continues to find and slither through all of the holes in the American system. And as Donald Trump blunders his way through attempting to lead us through this crisis, he is finding decreasing success with his go-to tactics of deception, gaslighting, subject-changing, and hyperbole. Coronavirus has brought to light numerous undeniable ways in which our system has failed.
What those who have been the victims of our system’s failures have experienced for years, is now, finally, being felt by many who were previously cushioned from it.
Clearly, health care, how we pay for it, and who gets it is at the top of the list of what’s badly broken in America. For years, a lot of people who had comfortable and affordable insurance plans through their employers didn’t tend to give health care availability much thought. Some even saw it as a privilege instead of a basic right. Suddenly, however, due largely to our administration’s ineptness at managing testing for coronavirus, even those with gold-level health care coverage are finding it difficult or impossible to obtain a test, even if they can pay for it.
For those without health care coverage, the availability of testing is a moot point. As those in charge are finally beginning to acknowledge, this population are not only in danger if they contract coronavirus, but they are also a danger to others. The inability to pay for a doctor visit, let alone possible hospitalization and treatment (and the current difficulty in obtaining a test) undoubtedly leaves many with the virus to make guesses, possibly carry on with their lives as normal, and spread the illness to others.
People who don’t have health care coverage are often people who fall through the cracks and are ineligible for Medicare or Medicaid. Many of them work in the service industry, live paycheck-to-paycheck, and have no paid sick leave or paid time off. They will go to work, even sick, because they have to. If they contract the coronavirus, they’ll spread it to others at work.
The lack of paid sick leave for hourly employees is hardly a new problem. As with the issue of accessible health care, though, many lawmakers act as if it were a new phenomenon that has just arisen from the COVID-19 pandemic.
As lawmakers and others who have never had to worry about health care or missing a paycheck because of illness become aware of how this also impacts them (and all of us), it has finally occurred to Donald Trump and his supporters in Congress to create legislation to allow hourly employees to take paid time off. No one wants to drink their latte and wonder if the person who served it might be seriously, contagiously ill.
As of Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is working with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to pass legislation to provide billions of dollars in aid to state and local governments for food programs and unemployment benefits. This will help.
The portion of the bill that would mandate employers to provide paid sick leave to all workers across the country, however, is still in dispute as of Thursday evening. Democrats would like for the mandate to be permanent, but Republicans are opposing a permanent measure.
The idea that such things as health care for all and paid sick leave should only be reactive and temporary solutions is, in itself, a failure of our system. It illustrates the shortsightedness and unpreparedness with which our government legislates health care.
It demonstrates the way many of us have taken our access to comfort as a given. It underlines how we have, until now, seen the possibility of a health care crisis so monumental that it could paralyze the world economy as nothing short of science fiction. And, as never before, it reveals the now-glaring fact that many of the people who represent Americans in government are not really interested in protecting the health and well-being of their poorer constituents unless the situation, like the coronavirus, poses a threat to them, the lawmakers.

Pelosi, Mnuchin Haggle for Compromise on Virus Relief Bill |
Bloomberg Politics [2020-03-12]

Can the US health care system handle the coronavirus pandemic? l GMA

Editorial: “You’re Supposed to Keep Us Safe:” When Life Imitates an ABC After School Special

“You’re supposed to keep us safe.”

That was Senator John Kennedy’s (R-La.) response on Tuesday to acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf on the agency’s inability to give a satisfactory briefing on how well the U.S. is prepared to deal with the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). Wolf’s answers to many of Kennedy’s questions were vague, or differed from the information Senators had received during an earlier Senate briefing that day.

“You’re supposed to keep us safe and the American people deserve some straight answers on the Coronavirus and I’m not getting them from you.”

This brings to mind one of the episodes of ABC television network’s After School Special from the 1970s. (For some reason, living under this administration brings to mind a number of applicable episodes.) In this particular episode, at least the way I remember it, the mom had a drinking problem that she thought she was hiding pretty well from her kids.

She repeatedly endangered her kids by doing things like falling asleep drunk while smoking in bed. The kids, who of course knew that mom drank too much, were so afraid that she would accidentally burn the house down that they decided to craft a fire exit plan and practice a fire drill so that they could get out of the house safely in case it caught fire.

Like this mom, the Trump administration also makes poor, dangerous decisions, as well as hiding things from “the kids,” the American people. Unlike this administration, however, when the TV mom realized the peril she was placing her kids in, and how unsafe the kids felt (and were) because of her, she got help so that she could stop endangering her family.

In contrast, the Trump administration, whose job it is to keep us safe, doubles down on defending its actions or further trying to cover them up when an error in judgment (or a lapse in ethics) comes to light. It has demonstrated that it values personal opinion over science and facts, and loyalty over competence.

Similarly to how it was for the After School Special kids, it’s left up to us to figure out how to keep ourselves safe from the ones who are supposed to keep us safe.

On Wednesday, President Trump held a press conference in which he updated Americans on the novel Coronavirus and how this administration was handling it. After allowing several infectious disease and public health experts on his newly formed task force to speak briefly, he contradicted much of what they said by downplaying the severity and the inevitable spread of the virus in the U.S.

He then announced that he was appointing Vice President Mike Pence to head up the task force. “He’s very good and I think — and he’s really very expert at the field,” Trump said about Pence, who has no health care background, who is not a fan of science, and who has had perilous public health failures such as failing to respond in a timely manner to an HIV crisis in his home state of Indiana.

One can’t forget, either, that Pence once wrote this in an op-ed: “Time for a quick reality check. Despite the hysteria from the political class and the media, smoking doesn’t kill.”

Apparently in an effort to prevent contradictory statements, the Trump administration has instructed experts such as Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, not to speak to the public or the press about the Coronavirus without clearance from the White House.

If nothing else, the Coronavirus press conference served as a reminder that we can’t be sure that anyone in the Trump administration will keep us safe from a potential U.S. outbreak of the Coronavirus.
Come to think of it, neither is anyone keeping us safe from a treacherous Russian president who manipulates our president as if he were a marionette; or from election tampering; or from financial ruin if we have an expensive illness; or from unfair or injurious treatment if we’re a member of a marginalized group; or from the corruption in our own government and its impact on how our laws are interpreted and obeyed (or ignored).
While many aghast Americans place their hopes in the 2020 election to save us from this fire, others continue to say that they do, in fact, feel safer under Trump. They are the people who think Stephen Miller’s immigration policies are the best thing since sliced bread. They are the people who keep believing that their coal mining jobs will come back. They are the people whom Trump assures, “We won’t let them take away your guns.” And they are the evangelical fundamentalists who are willing to hand over their integrity in exchange for the pandering that they have convinced themselves means that Trump really has their backs.
They are the people who, through their enabling of this out-of-control and inept leader, hold a share of the blame for making the rest of us a little less safe.

Coronavirus: “You’re supposed to keep us safe,” Sen Kennedy to Chad Wolf – Appropriation hearing | C-SPAN/Sense in That [2020-02-25]

Trump frustrated by CDC’s coronavirus severity warning |
CBS This Morning [2020-02-27]