We need action on free test availability and free treatment for the uninsured

No Time for Half Measures as Coronavirus Pandemic Worsens Dramatically

Electron microscope image of the COVID-19 coronavirus

In a country with such poor health care access,  poor labor laws and poor national leadership, simply hoping for the best is a recipe for disaster

This article is being jointly published by Tarbell.org and ThisCantBeHappening.net.   For the full article, please go to: https://tarbell.org/2020/03/hoping-for-the-best-is-a-recipe-for-disaster/


The World Health Organization last than a week ago finally announced that the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus had reached a point of global spread that it is now officially a pandemic.

Meanwhile, as the deadly virus spreads rapidly to state after state across the US (49 states and the colonial territory of Puerto Rico so far are reporting cases), and as the number of infected Americans rises at the predictable pace of doubling every week, one would think that school systems — a key factor in spreading disease — would be closing right away and coming up with emergency alternative solutions for educating children that avoid group settings. So far only 36 states have closed all schools, though individual school districts, cities and counties in others have also done so on their own. 

But for far too long the trend has been, and continues to be in many remaining states, to be for school districts and state governors to wait and do nothing until there is some exposure incident in which a school full of children and teachers is put at risk by contact with a person — a teacher, a student or a parent — who turns out to have contracted the coronavirus infection or been in contact with an infected person. Only then does the district take action to shut down schools and then track down all the people potentially at risk, while figuring out how to feed low-income children, help keep education going at home, and find ways to help families where both parents have to work.

This is nonsense and completely at odds with sound epidemic management.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has for some time been warning the public and state and local governments  that the US is in for a major pandemic, with 100,000 cases expected in this country within weeks, and over a million cases by early summer.

The US is particularly ill-prepared to weather this or any pandemic because of two factors:

The first issue is the large number of citizens and residents — 87 million people or more than one quarter of the population — who are either uninsured or, thanks to high deductibles and co-pays, are technically considered insured but who are unable to pay for timely testing and any needed medical care.

The second issue is that nearly 100 million American workers do not have paid sick leave, and half of those workers don’t have even unpaid sick days. Among other things, this means that most of our service workers who have routine contact with the public, either directly like waiters and kitchen staffs, or indirectly, like warehouse workers or delivery people, tend to go to work sick on pain of losing their job or losing a paycheck and of being unable to pay for food, rent or transportation for themselves and their families.

I called the school nurse in my granddaughter’s elementary school here in Pennsylvania to ask why they were waiting to close the district’s schools until there’s an infection incident and, incredibly, she replied, “Well, we don’t know how this disease will play out. Maybe our district will get lucky.”

Really? And this was a school nurse talking!

Understandably, school authorities need to think about — and give parents to time to figure out — how children not in school will be cared for, how those from low-income homes who get free breakfasts and lunches at school, will get fed, and how kids with no computer or wifi at home will do distance learning like their peers with computers. But that is something they should have been working out weeks ago!

In Japan, the national government closed all schools in the country for at least a month when the number of people affected by the virus was just 700. China, Italy and iran have done likewise, along with another 19 nations.

For the rest of this article, please to to: https://tarbell.org/2020/03/hoping-for-the-best-is-a-recipe-for-disaster/