We’re Beating Ourselves in the Fight Against Coronavirus: Actions We Should be Taking
With over 120,000 Americans dead, almost 2,500,000 confirmed cases, unemployment resembling the likes of the Great Depression, and common sense being thrown out the window, how much more can we take?
When I first learned about the newly emerged sars-cov-2 from Wuhan late last year, scrolling through my news feed in bed one night, I was alarmed but felt like the Chinese would be able to contain it in time. China is one of the most educated and innovative countries in the entire world, so I didn’t let my mind become overwhelmed by the breaking news. However, as time went on and as the novel virus spread from one country to the next, I had a feeling we would soon be on the list. In the back of my mind, I knew there was going to be a pandemic while still trying to make it through my senior year of college, hoping that everything would be okay.
By the time it reached the U.S., I thought that we would be ready, maybe more so than other nations. But that changed as soon as I heard the president say at one of his cult rallies, “This is their new hoax!” At the worst time for the incompetent man to be so incredibly stupid, I should have known better than to think we were prepared. From that point on, all hell broke loose as the virus swept us like a tidal wave, testing being almost nonexistent from the start, people claiming that this was “just a flu,” the deadly for profit healthcare industry taking punch after punch, and no leadership whatsoever. Never in my life did I think we, the United States, would respond to a pandemic in a way that could be compared to Kenneth Copeland blowing “the wind of God” as a solution to the outbreak.
Tragically, things are only getting worse. Testing has finally met the bare minimum of what’s needed in our country, essential workers are putting their lives on the line to keep us standing without the resources they need, and researchers around the world are racing to develop a vaccine. But here’s the point: the United States needs to stop the individualist attitude and start leading, not relying on knee-jerk reactions that are killing us. So much precious time has been lost during these past months, making it the difference between life and unintentional genocide that’s leaving a harrowing trail of death and despair. It feels like no matter how many facts are given, what the unnerving data tells us, what the experts say, how much begging and pleading we do to convince the federal government and the public to take this seriously, or how hard we work, we’re just digging a deeper hole.
The root of our troubles lies in our culture, including the unrelenting individualism, exceptionalism, racism, bigotry, egotism, and religious zealotry that is actively trying to dismantle science. Instead of Manifest Destiny, we’re on the path to Manifest Decimation. If there’s ever been a time we needed to become a collectivist nation, it’s now! We need to look out for one another, make sacrifices for the greater good, put petty differences to the side, and remember that we can’t beat this pandemic alone. We’re dividing amongst ourselves and the world, and I’m scared that this chaos will last for a couple of years, especially if Trump is re-elected. Also, the United States has taken on this stance of riding the Coronavirus out until a vaccine is developed.
Here’s the main problem with that: there’s no guarantee whatsoever that we’ll have one ready by this Fall or next year. We may not be able to make a successful one at all given that there has never been one for any type of coronavirus. This holding on to the edge of our seats and sacrificing the lives of thousands for the economy method won’t solve anything. There are actions that can be taken which will help us get through this crisis without continuing the sheer idiocy at the most unprecedented scale.
Here are proposals I have in mind that could be implemented on a national level:
- Ramp up testing and keep it that way. This isn’t time for someone in particular to tell his cronies to “Slow the testing down, please!”
- Resurrect the Coronavirus Task Force but with Dr. Fauci leading the way instead of Mike Pence (Trump and the others need to stay out of it). Also, create an entire department that’s focused specifically on the Covid-19 outbreak to help with coordinating a national response.
- Take significant advantage of the Defense Production Act so that our hospitals, and the private sector as a whole, will have enough PPE as well as ventilators to provide much needed relief.
- Forgive all student loan debt, something that’s long overdue. The pandemic will only make such burdens worse thanks to the recession.
- Reinstate the CDC pandemic response team and other teams/organizations that were done away with under Trump’s power. Restore funding to the CDC, WHO, and more that have been cut.
- Stop spending billions on greedy corporations, especially those that don’t provide employees with the benefits and resources that are needed to live. Besides, these CEOs have profited too much from the suffering of others. Oversight of their policies and behaviors need to be increased as well to ensure fairness and that their employees will be protected.
- Freeze all rent, mortgage, utilities, and other major expenses that too many are struggling to pay during the crisis. The economy is in tatters, millions are out of work, jobs are becoming an oasis, and nothing is improving.
- Provide people with significant federal aid rather than a one time $1,200 check. Perhaps provide people $2,000 a month or more depending on everyone’s situation so that no one will have to worry about not having enough money for groceries and staying alive.
- Pounce on pharmaceutical companies and stop the national price gouging that bankrupts Americans each year, all while working to reform the healthcare industry (no, that doesn’t automatically mean getting rid of Obamacare). We need to keep the Affordable Care Act in place so that no one will lose their insurance. Once the pandemic has become much more manageable, then the federal government could work to improve Obamacare and make healthcare universal for everyone without bankrupting Americans. Of course, under this administration, that won’t happen. If a vaccine is developed, then it should be made free to all Americans, not forgetting tests, while the federal government should do everything possible to ensure its widespread distribution.
- Reduce spending on military forces, law enforcement (defunding does not mean completely doing away with them!), and other unnecessary programs that don’t directly help citizens. Entitlements and welfare need to be expanded, in addition to the $600 unemployment benefit. Hazard pay should be a priority for all essential workers as well.
- Now, this could be considered a “radical” idea, if none of the others above already seem to be that way. I believe that we should stop all efforts to bring sports back in the midst of this crisis (hey, I miss them, too) and convert every professional field and stadium into makeshift hospitals or medical camps to treat overflow patients. This will be a gargantuan breath of fresh air to the healthcare industry. Use the two giant naval ship hospitals as well.
- Pardon and release all criminals convicted of non-violent crimes and misdemeanors in order to decrease the size of jail/prison populations. Prison reform and greater protections for those incarcerated should be made to promote fairness and to stop more infections. Prisoners and ex-cons should automatically have their voting rights restored.
- Work to make wearing masks mandatory in public or places that have a significant amount of people.
- Put in place fines for those that don’t wear masks in grocery stores or in other places, especially if they refuse to wear one that’s been offered to them. As for those who gather in crowds filled with several people, including cookouts, parties, and any other type of social gathering, they need to be ordered to disperse. If they refuse, then arrests should be made as well as imposing fines. For protests, they can still take place as long as people are able to spread out far enough from each other while masks are worn.
- If necessary, build more hospitals or medical facilities that can hold a greater amount of people, similar to actions that China took during the early days of the outbreak. Not to forget, provide or make shelter for the homeless to stay in since they are the most vulnerable.
- Send much needed relief to the Navajo and other Native American tribes. Create a federal program that will focus on providing and coordinating said aid. Since minorities, particularly African Americans, are disproportionally affected by the virus, they should be given special attention due to the deep-rooted systemic racism and oppression they face in every facet of our society.
- Hospitals should be prevented from price gouging patients for treatment and other services in order to prevent bankruptcy.
- Health insurance should no longer be an employer based system, especially in times like these. Remember, we don’t want things to go back to how they were, and I only mean the problems that pervade our country. We need massive fundamental reform on all societal levels.
- Stop slashing mental health funding. This is a time when isolation, the recession, a deadly virus, and many other stressors are assaulting the human psyche. The pandemic has taken a psychological toll on the world, and, with the United States already facing a mental health crisis, it’s time to tackle it. There’s no better moment to do just that.
- If schools can possibly reopen in the Fall (and I mean partially), parents and their children should be given options as to how they would want to proceed with the latter’s education. If they choose to have their children learn online, then free internet access should be guaranteed to all families, especially to those in rural America where access is needed most. If parents can’t afford to miss work while their children are home, companies they work for should not terminate them or threaten to take away pay along with other benefits. Schedules ought to be accommodated that will work for these families between the former and their employers.
- Visitors to each state who plan to stay there for up to a week or longer should be required to quarantine for 14 days. For people going on vacations, public beaches and other areas should have officials to enforce social distancing and, if necessary, to have the power to close these locations if situations become out of control. Those coming back to their home states from vacations should be tested or be asked to quarantine for 14 days.
- The federal government should increase technological tracking of people and tracing of new Coronavirus cases in order to quell smaller lines of infection.
- Any state government or officials who attempt or do manipulate state, regional, and local data need to be criminally prosecuted by the Department of Justice. Georgia and Florida officials, including the governors themselves, have strongly repressed accurate data in real time. We can’t afford to tolerate any more corruption. Corruption is a major reason we’re still stuck in the first wave.
- We need to impose stronger travel bans, and, if there are Americans abroad or immigrants who need to return to the U.S., they should be required to answer government questions related to their potential exposure to the virus and quarantine in place if possible before travel. Airlines transporting Americans or others who reside in the U.S. should have a limited capacity to ensure social distancing. Airports should enforce social distancing, limit capacity inside and on all flights, provide masks and other PPE if necessary, provide on site testing, and have the power to make arrests and ban those who refuse to cooperate. For those who wish to immigrate to the U.S., they should be provided comfortable and safe living facilities where social distancing and other healthy habits can be made possible. If they are approved to reside in the country, and I mean this through a fair, humane, unbiased process, then they need to understand the severity of the pandemic while possibly being subjected to tracking for both their safety and that of others. Like I said before, everyone may possibly need to be tracked/traced. Immigrants, legal and illegal, already residing in the country need to receive the same benefits as others.
- To keep the economy going, the federal government needs to implement a massive program similar to that of the New Deal during the Great Depression, leading to the creation of a multitude of subsidiary programs that will allow for the unemployed to find opportunities for work. Like the New Deal, this one should focus on all sectors and all facets of American society so that aid can be provided to both citizens and the government itself. There’s only so much money that can be spent, so cuts need to be made in all the right places while funds that are used will only help us get through this pandemic faster.
- Keep communication and cooperation open between allies and many other nations so that assistance can be provided to help fight the virus on a global scale. Perhaps take the time to form an international coalition if possible!
- Small businesses need to be better protected, better funded for assistance, and corporations need to be stopped from forming conglomerates and trying to eliminate these businesses from competition. The more businesses there are to employ people, to offer a wide range of goods/services, to form new job opportunities, and promote an equitable/productive market will keep the economy going. Idea #25 will help supplement the private sector greatly.
- All voting for the 2020 general election needs to be by mail! Party conventions and rallies need to be electronic, not in person. Voter suppression tactics need to be stopped and those who use them need to be federally prosecuted. Also, the Electoral College should not be used for this election and needs to be taken out immediately after this particular cycle.
- The postal service needs to be fully funded and should not be ignored!
- Third parties need to be recognized and allowed to have as much power as both the Republican and Democratic parties. They should not be excluded from performing on a national platform.
- Since so many states are reopening too soon, the federal government should be put in charge of a majority of the reopening process. It’s abundantly clear that conservative governors have inflicted severe damage, which is an understatement, by jumping the gun.
- As for closing and reopening the country, assessing whether it’s safe to do so, working to stamp out new localized infections of Covid-19, and the implementation of a majority of the ideas listed above, cooperation between states and the federal government is imperative. The federal government should decide when states reopen, cities of each county within a particular state should be in charge of their own needs, and each state should frequently work with the federal government to ensure that cooperation and necessary goals are met. However, all regions, states, counties, and cities need to follow all mandatory federal guidelines when it comes to functioning on a daily basis during the pandemic.
I know that none of these ideas will be implemented as long as the Trump Administration remains in power, but, if Joe Biden does win this Fall, then I hope that he will implement a good amount of these ideas as well as those that are suggested by Bernie Sanders. We need to get our heads out of the sand and start making a real difference. It’s time to stop pretending that the Coronavirus pandemic will “magically disappear.” We need to adopt a collectivist attitude as a nation and stop treating the severity of this pandemic as a matter of political opinion. I hope everyone who took the time to read this article will share it with others and contact government officials with these ideas. I hope I’ll be able to do those things, too. Please, please look out for each other, stay safe, listen to the experts, and use common sense at all times! Most importantly, don’t give up hope! To all of our essential workers, THANK YOU!!