By: Matt Twillman, Contributing Writer
As the nation and the rest of the globe contend with the COVID-19 crisis threatening the health and wellbeing of millions, many people are feeling the financial weight of the catastrophe more than others.
In an age where the rich are getting richer and income inequality has already ballooned to a crippling degree, millions losing their jobs in an age where 78% of Americans live paycheck-to-paycheck leave a significant amount of the population in a dire situation.
For those less well off, the consequences are clear. Without protections set in place, tighter pockets have meant that many Americans are forced to make uncomfortable decisions between paying rent or the bills, feeding their children or feeding themselves. Additionally, with the desert wasteland that are toilet paper and cleaning product aisles these days, many Americans cannot ensure their own comfort and safety when they need it most.
The stakes for low-income individuals are critically higher now than ever before, too. Many among the recently unemployed 3 million Americans who had seen their job security vanish saw their health insurance evaporate along with it. For the uninsured, the consequences of getting Coronavirus in our already overwhelmed and problematic healthcare system can be deadly, with treatment potentially reaching into five figures without insurance. For the wealthy, this is simply no issue – entire NBA teams are able to afford and provide testing to all of their staff while a growing shortage of tests, particularly for ordinary Americans, loom before us.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio echoed this sentiment. “Tests should not be for the wealthy, but for the sick,” he stated in a March 17 tweet.
With all that lies ahead in these uncertain times, the need for strong and capable leadership is pertinent now more than ever. President Donald Trump’s handling of the crisis can, however, be considered reckless and callous at best and life-threatening at its worst.
Despite what Trump said in his March 11 Oval Office Address, the promise of insurance companies to “waive all co-payments for coronavirus treatments, extend insurance coverage to these treatments and to prevent surprise medical billing,” turned out to be pure fiction.
The most recent Coronavirus relief package may seem pure on the surface – it’s designed to jumpstart the economy, provide free testing and bail out struggling families. Hidden within the document, however, lies a major tax break for wealthy real estate investors so that even while Americans are dying and medical supplies are running dangerously low, Senate Republicans have ensured that some way, somehow, the rich can get richer off of this calamity.
President Trump has actively hurt our national capacity to contain the spread of Coronavirus, by downplaying the crisis as “under control” since it reached the U.S. in January. His labelling of coronavirus as the “Chinese” virus is a medieval attempt at scapegoating and provoking hate crimes not unlike the attacks on Jews spurred by the Black Death 700 years ago.
Considering the U.S. timeline, where we have not reached the peak of this virus and a return to normal life will not happen for “months” according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the fact that President Trump wants “packed churches” on Easter Sunday in two weeks will most certainly lead to the spread of more cases, a tighter strain on already overwhelmed hospitals, and inevitably more avoidable death.