When your loved one is seriously ill, you naturally want to talk to the best doctors to learn about treatments, cures and prognosis. You do not talk with the hospital’s CEO or PR director.
During a potential pandemic, Americans expect our president to care first and foremost about people and not about politics. Medical investigators are real doctors, not spin doctors, and they’re our respected source of scientifically accurate information because they capably balance the need for truth and speed with our right to know.
In 1918 the Spanish Flu killed 18 million worldwide. Since 2000, we’ve seen SARS, Swine Flu, H1N1, Ebola and now COVID-19. In 2018, the Trump administration dismantled the office Obama established during the 2009 Ebola outbreak to deal proactively with pandemics. That shortsightedness has come home to roost in a public and potentially deadly way. It’s been more than a month since the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus an international public health emergency. Last week the president appointed Vice President Mike Pence the mouthpiece/filter for public information that rightfully should come straight to us from the experts. In doing so, President Trump telegraphed exactly what was most important to him — the tumbling stock market and its effect on his re-election. Our world-renowned experts are of little use if they are muzzled.
Over half the workers in the leisure and hospitality industries servicing restaurants and hotels lack access to paid sick leave. Fully 67 million Americans are uninsured or underinsured and have every incentive to keep going to work or school while sick, including the barista at your local coffee shop. The Trump administration said those who can afford it should buy more stock and not panic.
We might get lucky, they said; the virus could disappear in the spring. We don’t need luck, folks; we need science! Viruses don’t distinguish between rich and poor. They are equal-opportunity pathogens uncowed by wealth or political power. The “market” and the Fed’s interest rate cuts can’t keep disease from spreading, convince symptomatic workers living paycheck to paycheck to stay home, or mend broken supply chains.
Trouble is brewing.