Coronavirus Essentials and How Our Government is Failing Us

Let’s start this off the right way. 

  • Watch this video by Chubbyemu to learn about what the coronavirus is, its symptoms, and some treatments
  • Currently, there is no vaccine and reinfection is possible
  • Here’s a playlist where he posts updates about the virus
  • This video by Theodore Leaf is a good overview of basic supplies you may need to stock up on and how to use them
  • Finally, here’s a map tracking the virus (no this isn’t Plague Inc., as much as it may seem so)

It’s a pretty easy case to make that what we’ve provided in the few bullet points above is more help than any of us will get from our current presidential administration.

Of course, that’s a little hyperbolic because we can’t fund national response strategies, but it doesn’t feel so outlandish when President Trump is deliberately underfunding response programs and employing “financial experts” to oversee those programs.

Trump’s Nepotism Hurts Us

A few days ago Alex Azar, Secretary of Health and Human Services and former big pharma executive, told Congress that he couldn’t promise that a coronavirus vaccine would be affordable.

“We would want to ensure that we work to make it affordable, but we can’t control that price because we need the private sector to invest. Price controls won’t get us there.”

It was only after the massive backlash that Azar backtracked on this sentiment, though he only provided vague promises that there would be “access” to the R&D going into the coronavirus, whether it’s in the form of “vaccines or therapeutics.”

It’s not just Azar that needs to be thrown under the bus. Vice President Mike Pence has been put in charge of the coronavirus task force. This is the same Mike Pence who, during his time as Illinois Governor, was against needle exchange programs needed to combat the spread of HIV in 2015.

Pence was more worried about “handing out drug paraphernalia” than preventing the spread of a deadly disease.

Two recent additions to the coronavirus task force, which currently sits at 13 members, are also very concerning:

  • Lawrence Kudlow, current National Economic Council Director, editorial board member of the conservative media outlet National Review, and former chief economist at Bear, Stearns & Co., Inc, one of the entities responsible for the economic crash of 2008
  • Steven Mnuchin, current Treasury Secretary, former chief information officer at Goldman Sachs, and also profited from the 2008 economic crisis via OneWest Bank

Because the thing we really need to effectively combat a potentially catastrophic virus outbreak is to put completely corrupt corporate hacks on the task force, right?

Naturally, Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT) spoke out against the presidential administration for this blatant corruption and negligence of the public good.

“Concern about the coronavirus continues to grow, yet the Trump administration’s response has been inadequate, misleading, and dangerous… By picking Vice President Mike Pence to lead the administration’s response to the pandemic, Trump has not only chosen someone completely unqualified, but the president has made clear that he’s more concerned about his own politics than the health and safety of the country.”

Scrambling for Funding

For a while, Trump was touting that he didn’t need any additional funding to combat the virus. Now, he’s asking Congress for $2.5 billion, with over $1 billion of that going into developing a vaccine. Critics say that this isn’t enough to effectively combat the virus and Democrats called it “anemic.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has called for $8.5 billion in funding. And, for all of her faults, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) proposed a bill that would reallocate $10 billion from the US-Mexico border wall project towards dealing with the coronavirus. Naturally, all of these proposals will cause a pointless squabble between each party about how much should be spent fighting the virus and who cares more about the federal budget. 

Congress spent days deliberating over how much money it should allocate to purchasing blankets, soap, and toothbrushes to counteract the inhumane conditions that detained refugees endured during the summer of 2019. The result was only to pass a half-baked measure that gave Republicans what they wanted: more funding for the border wall. It’s not unreasonable to expect a similarly incompetent outcome with this situation.

Keep in mind that Michael Bloomberg is worth over $55 billion — he could swoop in and do a great deal to resolve this crisis by spending just over 15% of his personal wealth to provide that $8.5 billion that one of his “fellow” Democrats is requesting. That could virtually win him the presidency if he actually gave a damn about people.

Why is any of this happening at all?

The Intercept wrote a report on Trump’s coronavirus task force and its conflicts of interest. Trump has been no stranger to firing essential personnel in the scientific community working with the government; he did the same thing to national health experts in January.

According to the report, Trump “shut down the National Security Council’s global health security unit and cut $15 billion in national health spending.“ 

What Wall Street is Worried About

While the average American is struggling to throw together rudimentary survival kits and stressing out about if they could even pay the bills to get treated if infected by the coronavirus, Wall Street has a different set of priorities.

The DOW Jones fell by 1,191 points last Thursday, the sharpest decline since 2011, which doesn’t mean much for the average person while it means the world to penny-pinchers on Wall Street. Sure, a little over 50% of Americans own stocks, but the overwhelming majority of stock investment (about 84%) is among the upper 10% echelon of wealth. The stock market dropping like that is a real issue, but the cause isn’t the coronavirus.

Mainstream media is trying to pin this massive drop on the coronavirus, and maybe that’s part of the reason. However, this crash was coming regardless of a disease outbreak because capitalism is inherently unstable. Capitalism goes through recessions about every 8 years, so we were due for another since the last one ended in 2009.

That chronic instability doesn’t matter to the extremely wealthy, though. Goldman Sachs’ David Kostin said, “US companies will generate no earnings growth in 2020” due to the virus. He elaborated further, lamenting about the initially projected 7% increase in corporate earnings this year:

“Our reduced profit forecasts reflect the severe decline in Chinese economic activity in 1Q, lower end-demand for U.S. exporters, disruption to the supply chain for many U.S. firms, a slowdown in U.S. economic activity, and elevated business uncertainty.”

These people are too worried about their personal wealth dropping a few points than with helping the American people. 

We’re on Our Own for Now

According to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), a mass-produced and publicly-available vaccine is expected to be, at best, a year and a half away. 

Of course, Trump is lying again by saying that America is “very close” to a vaccine. It would be wonderful if we could actually believe our president when it comes to national threats. He only cares about his own wallet and ego, though. It’s morbidly amusing to watch our president half-heartedly fund a proper response to this virus while he continues to siphon taxpayer dollars via his businesses. 

We Americans have been abandoned by our own corporations and government for a long time. Just because they’re turning their backs on us again doesn’t mean we can’t get through this in one piece. That means that we need to stock up on supplies, work together, and take care of each others’ needs by banding together as communities.

No one’s coming to save us, so we need to save ourselves.

Stay Positive

With all of this doom and gloom, it’s vital to remain positive and to simply do everything in your power to prepare for and deal with the coronavirus. It’s not just your survival kit, or other material goods, or your loved ones that you need to take care of; your mental health is at least as valuable. It doesn’t matter how bad things get because there’s always hope. 

As bad as things might seem right now, the coronavirus is basically equivalent to the flu when it comes to contagion rates and severity. Most people infected are in China, so we’re still largely insulated from the brunt of the virus’ impact.

Humanity has survived numerous catastrophes, and, even if the coronavirus turns into a worst case scenario, the world today is better equipped to deal with another one. 

We’ve always managed to survive and we always will.

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