Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Common Sense Thoughts on the COVID-19 Epidemic and Getting Past it.

As states and other entities talk about reopening lets look at this closely.

Why did people decide to shut down?

The purpose of the shutdown is to delay the spread of the virus, not stop it just slow it down enough that the hospitals are not overwhelmed. If the hospitals get too many patients at one time they cant handle the load and more people die. That includes hospital staff, nurses, service staff, even patients not in the hospital for the virus as they get ignored because of overcrowding or actually get infected.
The sooner we open up again the worse the effect on human lives and though this may give a short term economic respite it will prolong the crisis and increased overall costs.

What do I do if it opens too soon?

  • Use masks and physical distancing from others as much as possible.
  • If your lucky enough to have a job that lets you work from home, do it as much as possible.
  • If your in an office cancel meetings in the conference room and use video or conference calls. Even if your all in the building, being in a room for an hour is asking to catch anything your coworkers have.
  • Avoid restaurants, bars, gyms, salons, etc. Delivery can support them and get you good food.  These businesses will suffer the most which is why Congress needs to take care of them.
  • Don't hoard! Supply chains are stressed but working, hoarding puts your neighbors at extra risk as they lack essential supplies.  On the other hand shop wisely and infrequently.
  • Remember you can be a carrier before you show symptoms!  Avoid close interaction with people till a vaccine is available. If you get sick notify everyone you recently encountered.

What Should the Government Do?

Roughly every decade we have a significant countrywide disaster, its pretty predictable and the government needs to stat taking their jobs seriously and think long term. Just as any member of the military they swore an oath under God to serve and protect, time they started taking that obligation seriously.
  • Get Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) into peoples hands, no excuse for this not being done months ago. It was just laziness that killed thousands of Americans. Nurses do not need to be called heroes while we send them into die from getting infected because our government doesnt want to spend the money to get them basic equipment to protect them.
  • Get Testing out, again we are way behind where we should be due to laziness and government inaction.  This was no real surprise, a pandemic has been expected for decades, so why are we so unprepared?  Because politicians think short term, not long term and too many let them get away with it.
  • Once PPE and widespread testing are available it wont be safe to open up, but it will be safer. Again short term thinking makes the long term cost much more severe and expensive overall. If we had been prepared we may have not even needed a shut down, and certainly fewer people would have gotten sick or even died. When things open up there will be another spike, the longer we hold back the smaller that spike will be and the fewer lives lost. They key is how prepared we are when we do open up.
  • Businesses are suffering now and will suffer even after we reopen. Government needs to take care of them, primarily the smaller businesses who dont have the resources of larger businesses. Also emphasis service and restaurants.
  • Politicians looking at their wallets and encouraging people to die so they can get more money for themselves and their donors need to simply stop thinking that way and put the country first.
As an aside those Churches trying to encourage people to come to service are likely doing it to serve the church leaderships pocket, not their parishioners. Ask yourself, how many services dd Jesus have in a church versus open air? Think about it, you dont need to worship together to be faithful, so whats in it for those wanting you to risk your live to go to their building?

What Should we do Before the Next Disaster?

We know there will be another one, probably not as bad in about ten years. We should think ahead and plan for it. Whether its another bank, oil, airline, real-estate, or manufacturing bailout, a pandemic, or a climate inspired refugee crisis there are measure we can take now that will save lives and money later.
  • Medicare for All saves lives and taxpayers hundreds of billions annually. More than that, imagine a world where instead of paying your health insurance premium, co-pays, and deductibles you pay HALF that total in taxes instead. Imagine  not worrying about losing your health care if you lose your job (as many are doing now) or even just switch to a new job (usually you lose it for 90 days). Imagine not losing your home or lifesavings if you or a family member get cancer or other serious illness. Imagine looking for a job based on pay or it being what you like to do rather than worrying about its health benefits. As a business imagine not having to deal with insurance companies and the extra overhead. Able to hire older or disabled Americans without your health costs going up. Imagine a small business owner being able to compete on a level playing field with larger companies, or hiring full time workers instead of twice that many part time workers (and the extra training costs) or permanent instead of contractors all to avoid dealing with health care coverage requirements. Imagine a healthier workforce because they can get preventative care instead of putting it off till its far worse or maybe they infected other workers.
  • Financial regulation to keep big "Too big to fail" companies from knowingly making poor decisions because the CEOs know the taxpayers will pick up the tab.
  • Responsible and forward thinking EPA and Climate legislation to reduce the effects of natural disasters and seasonal extremes that are hurting so many industries.  Remember we will have to pay for it at some point, but the longer we put it off the bigger the tab and total costs. Millions of new jobs can be created, farms saved, etc and current businesses relying on fossil fuels wont shut down overnight, there will be years, probably decades in transitioning. And remember, those jobs are going away. If America does not step up other countries will (and are moving that way now) and in trying to put it off by sticking our head in the sand and thinking short term we and those people will be left behind. If we dont work on electric cars someone else will, we used to be a leader in Solar energy but other countries have started moving ahead which means jobs we just gave away. How smart is that?
  • Election Reform should be a priority.  We cant hold our politicians accountable if they get billions from the wealthy to buy ads and tell us their lies. Politicians use a classic Divide and Conquer strategy to keep Americans fighting each other instead of holding them accountable to us. Voter suppression needs to be stopped for the good of everyone and money must be taken out of politics. Why should a Congressmen or Senator get away with insider trading? Especially when they put their wallets ahead of yours and the country?

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