With stripped away labor laws and lack of sick leave, most Americans can no longer afford to skip work now. Others may find that their jobs won't even let them take the time off to take the expensive coronavirus test (if they can find a test).
Editor's Note: The below was published shortly before President Trump's live televised address on March 11 at 9 pm EST.
Death is America's kryptonite.
The idea of it, I mean. No one here wants to hear about it, think about it (they offer thoughts and prayers instead) and no other country in the world spends as much money trying to elude signs of aging, as if you could stop time by throwing money or cold cream or plastic surgery at it.
Over here, they simply cannot bear very much mortality, I have observed. That's why the coronavirus pandemic has already gained far more traction than it ever needed to, because this is a nation where the enthusiastic denial of nature (and all the processes of the natural world) have become just another adjunct of your reactionary politics.
There are other uniquely American complications that have fatally slowed our response to the threat. With stripped away labor laws and lack of sick leave, most Americans can no longer afford to skip work now.
Others may find that their jobs won't even let them take the time off to take the coronavirus test (if they can find a test). Still, others will not have health insurance. Others only have a form of insurance that's so paltry that it doesn't cover the test.
You see where I'm going with this? It's the perfect storm. It turns out that taking away people's ability to protect themselves means you're taking away your own. Pandemics and libertarianism simply don't play well.
The majority of employers here still do not have a plan in place for what to do during the pandemic and that is giving the virus all the launchpad it needs.
Incompetence is doing the rest of the work. Let it never be forgotten that Trump fired the entire national pandemic response team in the NSC and DHS in 2018. He did this because it was an Obama-era initiative and he wanted to rid his government of any trace of his foes good works.
Trump's response to the growing threat of this virus now has been unforgivably stupid, even worse than George W. Bush's notoriously tardy response to Hurricane Katrina. Because it's not a “hoax” or a “media invention,” it's here.
Talking about coronavirus two days ago, Trump said, “We closed it down. We stopped it.” But he has done nothing of the kind. In fact, his disinterest has accelerated its spread. New York now has the highest number of infections in the nation and the numbers are about to explode.
Ignoring coronavirus is not a policy, it's criminally stupid. Golfing with the authoritarian thug Jair Bolsonaro at Mar-a-Largo over the weekend instead of preparing the nation for a national pandemic, he was telling himself fairy tales about how smart and powerful and prepared he was as the virus spreads.
Reflect that China built a new hospital in a week. That South Korea already has drive through testing sites. That Germany had test kits since January and those tests and their rapid response have kept the deaths there down to two people.
It's an indictment of American tardiness, where even today the government, the CDC and our medical practitioners can't even seem to get their hands on some testing kits.
Worse, the CDC have actually stopped reporting - doubtless after a White House request - the daily number of confirmed cases. Meanwhile, when Trump says he's “going down to Florida for meetings,” what he means is that he's returning to his Mar-a-Lago members-only club, to attend flashy fundraisers to bankroll his own campaign, which incidentally he'll also personally profit from.
Do I sound angry? I think I must be. If you're not angry about how badly this pandemic is being managed by this administration then you may not have a pulse. Flights are still freely arriving here from northern Italy, the very epicenter of the outbreak in Europe, without so much as a swab test of passengers or a travel ban to halt the current spread.
In a vanished world, the U.S. used to do this sort of thing. https://t.co/9cwqxJ2xng— John Cassidy (@JohnCassidy) March 10, 2020
Because travel bans only happen if you're Muslim, apparently. Then they can be introduced overnight without fanfare or apology. It's only when the color of your skin becomes white that it's suddenly impossible to introduce the necessary controls.
Right now you can waltz through JFK without a test of any kind and that's so irresponsible that it beggars belief. There is no one at the helm of the ship of state. We're rudderless, leaderless and now defenseless.