The Necessary Steps to Battle COVID-19
This article was written by Spencer Corp
The Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome-Related Coronavirus 2 is the virus that causes the disease COVID-19, commonly referred to as the ‘Coronavirus.’ COVID-19, first appearing in December of 2019, has rapidly engulfed the globe with over 234,000 confirmed cases worldwide and over 9,800 deaths as of March 18th.
These numbers will continue to grow 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 western world, there has been a severe lack of response. Instead of seeing the crisis in Italy and reacting appropriately, the White House is choosing to wait longer than it should address the crisis.
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 spreads this administration is failing the American people, and it will cost thousands of lives. As this disease has been silently spreading throughout the United States, Americans have not had available 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.
It is an embarrassingly weak response from the White House.
As the virus has rapidly spread across America, the administration’s response has been to close external borders and use hateful rhetoric to spread fear.
Instead, the burden has been passed to Governors and community leaders to take action, revealing the incompetence of the Trump 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 instead of demanding action. 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 reaching 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 times as hospital staff is constantly overworked, become exposed, and then become patients themselves. Americans are out of work with unemployment spiking to historic rates with 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 we have to take in order to save thousands of lives. As shown in Governor Andrew Cuomo’s (D-NY) strong leadership during this time, we must stop worrying so much about the economics of our response:
Americans must 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.
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. President Trump could enact the “Defense Production Act” but seems to believe it isn’t necessary. The Act would force companies to stop production of certain products, and would have to produce necessary products such as ventilators, respiratory masks and other items necessary to combat the virus just as we did during WW2 to create battleships.
We must put money back into the pockets of Americans. A universal basic income would have massive economic benefits, not just for the economy as a whole but for the wellbeing of Americans who are hurting
We must suspend as many expenses as possible because too many Americans will struggle for money. Even with a universal basic income, Americans will fight to pay their rent, mortgages, student and credit card debt. In order to combat this, the government should temporarily suspend these expenses so that all Americans can have some economic security.
In this time of crisis, we can not look to corporate cartels to save us, right now, more than ever we should 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 survive this pandemic. Any money that does go to large corporations must come with strict requirements. These companies must provide universal sick leave, raise their minimum pay to a living wage and guarantee their executives will not receive an extra penny in bonuses or be able to use our money on stock buybacks.
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 be difficult, but if we follow the steps we’ve outlined we can come out of this whole. Not just corporations or corrupt politicians, but for all of us. For the many.