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General News    H3'ed 3/12/20

Action needed on testing and care for all: Eyes Wide Shut Not Intelligent Policy or Personal Response to Deadly Pandemic

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

By Dave Lindorff

The World Health Organization on Wednesday announced that the spread of the COVID-10 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 (41 states 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.

Instead the trend appears to be for school districts 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, after which the district then shuts down schools and then has to find out all the people potentially at risk.

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

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has warned that the US is in for a major pandemic, with 100,000 case 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 -- 80 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 the fact that over 100 million American workers do not have paid sick leave, and half of those workers don't have even unpaid sick days, meaning 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 being unable to pay for food, rent or transportation.

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."

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Dave Lindorff is a founding member of the collectively-owned, journalist-run online newspaper He is a columnist for Counterpunch, is author of several recent books ("This Can't Be Happening! Resisting the (more...)

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Chuck Nafziger

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I believe you are missing the point in many aspects of your analysis, especially it thinking what other countries do will work here.

This is a new virus for which we have no immunities. It will pass through this country, infecting all who do not hole up and avoid contact with the general public. We should not be concerned with preventing the disease in the general population; we should be happy that those who survive the disease get an immunity and can no longer be carriers. That will limit the spread the NEXT time this, or another similar virus, passes through. It that vein, it is good that kids get the disease and the immunity..

The problems come when the kids bring the disease home to the grandparents. There currently is no cure for this virus, so medical treatment is for the lung problems and pneumonia that comes when the virus weakens an already sick person. Keep the patient alive long enough and their immune system will eventually find the silver bullet. Many old folks die first so it is prudent to try to protect them from getting the virus. Similarly, it is foolish to keep kids from getting it.

Countries with viable health care systems close things to SLOW the spread of the disease so their health care systems are not overloaded by too many dying old people at once. Our health care systems intentionally kills poor old people after it empties their pockets and estates. Counting on the US government or its insurance strangled health care system for help is plain stupid. Keep the kids away from the old folks for a couple of months and take care of sick oldies that get nailed anyway. Expect to lose some old friends or family members who are going into this in poor shape.

There is far more going on here that looks like an economic war rather than a way to deal with an new bad flu. Our for profit medical system will game its reaction to milk this for all it can. Realistically, we are on our own to take care of ourselves and our old friends.

Submitted on Thursday, Mar 12, 2020 at 5:32:44 PM

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