A Response to Corona Virus Solutions
March 20th, 2020
The Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome-Related Coronavirus 2 is the virus that causes the disease COVID-19, commonly referred to simply as the ‘Coronavirus’. COVID-19, first appearing in December of 2019, has rapidly engulfed the globe with over 234000 confirmed cases worldwide and over 9800 deaths as of March 18th. These numbers will continue to grow rapidly as the world continues to struggle to learn the lessons being taught in the most severely affected countries. In recent days, Italy has surpassed China in the total number of deaths, while only reporting about half the number of confirmed cases as China. In the free world, there has been a severe lack of response.
Instead of seeing the Italian crisis and reacting appropriately, the White House is choosing to walk, no, run in its footsteps.
On its current trajectory, the United States is set to experience an outbreak far worse than that of Italy. Despite this knowledge, the country severely lacks leadership from the top. The White House has repeatedly downplayed the severity of this disease, calling it a ‘hoax’ and comparing it to the flu (COVID-19 is, by conservative reports, over 10 times as deadly as the flu and significantly more contagious than the flu.).
While this disease is this administration is failing the American people, and it will cost thousands upon thousands of American lives. As this disease has been silently spreading throughout the United States, Americans have abysmal access to testing for COVID-19. According to the CDC, only about 55,000 Americans have been tested from January 18th through March 19th. In comparison, South Korea has tested over 316,000 individuals in the same time frame.
There has been an embarrassingly weak response from the White House. As the virus has rapidly spread across America, this administration’s response has been to close external borders and use hateful rhetoric to spread fear. Instead, passing the baton to Governors and community leaders to take action revealing the incompetence of this administration.
Meanwhile, Democrats in Congress have been begging for Republicans and the White House to listen to their solutions to both the spread of the virus and to the myriad of societal problems this virus is exposing. Unfortunately, it is clear that the situation is going to get much worse before it gets better. The latest projections state that between 40% and 70% of the world’s population will become infected with COVID-19, with death tolls possibly in the millions. This means that, just as in Italy, the health care system in the United States will struggle and likely fail to treat sick Americans. Due to the private nature of our health care, many hospitals may be unable to remain open during these trying times as hospital staff are constantly overworked and may even become patients themselves. Americans are out of work with unemployment spiking to historic rates with a projected more than 2.25 million Americans filing for unemployment in the coming week.
In terms of an immediate response to COVID-19, there are
five necessary steps in order to save thousands of lives. As shown in Governor Cuomo’s (NY) strong leadership during this time, we must stop worrying so much about the economics of our response.
Instead, Americans must (1) dramatically slow the spread of the virus. Mandate that non-essential businesses close their doors and that Americans work from home whenever possible. Social distancing is a key to slowing the spread of the virus and government mandates are necessary to do this effectively. In order to overcome the inevitable strain on our healthcare system,
(2) the United States must immediately and rapidly increase the capacity of our hospitals and clinics. The shocking lack of action by the White House to increase ventilator production (a key tool in treating the most severe cases of COVID-19), exemplifies exactly what we should not be doing. The government should be helping train doctors to treat the virus and should be building the infrastructure our health care system currently lacks. To do so, the President should immediately issue a Stafford Act declaration in order to provide funding for necessary measures.
Additionally, (3) we must put money back into the pockets of Americans. A universal basic income, even if it is for only 3 months, would have massive economic benefits, not just for the economy as a whole but for the wellbeing of Americans. Every American over the age of 18 should receive at least $1,000 a month until the virus is contained, otherwise, those millions filing for unemployment and the millions more who will experience a loss of income will struggle immensely.
Fourthly, (4) we must suspend large expenses as Americans struggle for money. Even with a universal basic income, Americans will struggle to pay their rent, mortgages, student and credit card debt. In order to combat this the government should temporarily suspend these expenses so that Americans, in this time of turmoil, can have some economic security.
Lastly, (5) in this time of crisis we must not look too large corporations to save us and should instead support small businesses across America. We should not bail out large multinational airlines, hotel chains or other corporate cartels. Instead, we should give grants, not loans, to small businesses so that they can stay afloat through this turmoil. And any money going to large corporations must come with strict requirements. These companies must provide universal sick leave, up to their minimum pay to a living wage and guarantee their executives will not receive an extra penny in bonuses or otherwise.
With these necessary steps, we can begin to not just slow the spread of the virus but help prepare our society and economy for the changes that are on the horizon. These next few months will likely be difficult, but together we can overcome. Not just corporations or corrupt politicians, but for all of us. For the many.
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