COVID-19: Infection and Infrastructure (America is in trouble)

This is a follow-up to an earlier post of mine, “COVID-19 and Too Much Free Time.” In that post, I noted how this new virus really wasn’t such a big deal. And as diseases go, it may not be. But then I looked at the wide-reaching effects it will have on the American system, and I would like to change my answer.

I don’t want to change my answer because the virus has mutated. It might have, but not so much that it makes much of a difference on the overall symptoms. The mortality rate has gone up, however. Common flu stills stands at around .1%, but COVID-19 has been raised to 3.4% as of March 3. While that may not seem like a lot, mathematically speaking, it is a lot more than we should be comfortable with. It is estimated that before this is over, 40% to 70% of the world population will catch it. Let’s say 40% do. That’s 2.8 billion people. 3.4% of that is 95.2 million people, and that’s a low estimate at this point.

The good news is that there is still a high recovery rate. However, we cannot think of this virus as being only dangerous to the old and infirm. People as young as 40 have died, and not all of them had pre-existing medical conditions. I’m sorry, this paragraph was supposed to be good news. Well, here it is: The COVID-19 virus appears to like children, and I mean that in the good way — it doesn’t seem to bother children much at all. The little snot machines that still make the rest of us sick have been, surprisingly and mercifully, largely spared any ill effects. And young people, although they can still get it, can recover rather quickly.

The rest of us should be worried, at least a little bit. I am over 40. I don’t smoke, but I have high blood pressure (runs in my family) and I have put on weight over the winter. As my Korean doctor very politely and fearfully told me after my last physical, “You are obese.” Seriously, it was the cutest thing. She’s this little Korean lady, probably in her 30s. She sits me down, goes over my notes, says, “Well, your numbers look good, and your blood pressure is under control with the medication you’re taking, but…” and she went red in the face, actually shrank — got even smaller! — and whispered the words as if I might strike her. I just laughed. I know I’m obese, I told her. I’m an American. That’s how we do! I have been trying to watch my weight, but… the holidays. You know how we do.

But I digress. Thing is, this virus does pack a punch for people older and less healthy than I, and there are a LOT of them. Look at our president, who is ironically a germophobe and yet he fired the U.S. Pandemic Response Team before this outbreak occurred. You know, because there wasn’t an epidemic then, which, to his thinking, meant there never would be one. And besides, Obama probably hired them in the first place, so they had to go. I don’t care how super-human healthy Trump’s obviously qualified physician says he is, Trump is old, obese, and eats like a high school kid whose parents are out of town.

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Remember this guy? Yeah, Trump is an Adonis of physical (and mental) health.

Short story: Hug your grandparents, hug your parents, keep them inside and safe. And don’t let them watch Fox News. That Trish Regan and those like her are dangerous idiots. Play it safe.

Now we get to the serious nature of this situation: The United States in general. I won’t go into a lot of detail here as Joe Rogan’s interview with infectious disease expert Michael Osterhol will do all of that for you. If you haven’t seen it, take 15 minutes and listen to it. It is a far better interview on this topic than I have seen coming out of the mainstream media outlets in the U.S. It asks all the right questions, and Osterhol knows his stuff. As one example of the things they discuss, 85% of the world’s IV bags were made in a factory in Puerto Rico. A year and a half ago, Hurricane Maria tore through it. Remember how Trump handled that situation? “And the world went into a major shortage of IV bags.” Would be nice to have a surplus of those right about now.

The bottom line is, even if the virus itself isn’t that destructive, the United States has put itself on top of a house of cards as far as our overall system is concerned. The United States is not prepared for what is coming. Supply chains have already broken down, and more will follow. The U.S. has made cuts to everything (I don’t want to politicize this, but WE ALL KNOW DAMN WELL WHAT PARTY IS LARGELY RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS). You’ve heard these numbers a lot over the past few weeks: More than 27 million Americans have no health insurance. There are only around 75,000 COVID-19 test kits available in the entire USA. Due to the high cost of health care, people in the USA won’t go to a doctor and will just try to ride out the virus like any other disease they may get. Even if they are asymptomatic, they are still highly contagious, and this stage can last longer than two weeks of quarantine. The American health care system has basically been dismantled to the point of being considered a Third World system in some areas, and there is no way it can handle the coming epidemic. And I mean coming, because what we are seeing today is just the beginning, and this epidemic will last for several months. If they close the schools, children will need a place to go because many families in America cannot afford day care, nor can they afford the time off work. Many will continue to try to work even if they get sick, simply because they need the money and they are afraid of losing their jobs. For many workers, paid sick leave is scarce in the American system.

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In America, too many people cannot afford to be sick. They won’t seek treatment, they won’t take time off work, and they won’t stay home because that much down time just isn’t a realistic option for them. So they will be out there, spreading the virus, and many of them work in the service industry where they will come into contact with a lot of people, or a lot of people’s food. Many rely on public transportation. Now the scariest thing to consider is that there may be a double-tap quality to this COVID-19 virus. There have been cases in which people who have recovered got sick again weeks later, and the second time was worse than the first.

Making all of this infinitely worse, the information in America is confused. There is no consensus from trusted sources. The CDC and those in the medical profession say one thing, and the freakin’ PRESIDENT says it will all “miraculously go away.” CNN says “wash your hands,” Fox News says it’s a Democratic conspiracy to hurt the president’s re-election campaign. And most Americans have no clue what they are in for, because they have seen viruses come and go, from SARS to MERS to swine and bird flu, and they think this will be more of the same.

It won’t. It’s tragically ironic that many Americans are walking around thinking, “Well, sure, it was bad in Asia because their whole system is third-world. They don’t have clean bathrooms and soap like we do!” or “Sure it’s bad in Italy! They kiss each other whenever they say hello!” They chalk it up to the usual American stereotypes and believe that we will somehow be immune, because ‘Murica.

Sadly, we have a president who seems to think the same way. Yet this is a situation he cannot bluff, bomb, or bullshit his way out of. Still, he refuses to meet with House leaders because he continues to be butthurt about his impeachment, and his team cannot work out a unified course of action or a stimulus plan to help families that will be struggling with the effects of this outbreak. And he keeps babbling like an idiot and spreading bad information because the stock market keeps plummeting and that seems to be the only part of this he can get his “genius” head around.

Meanwhile, China and Italy put their entire countries on lock down and may have started to get a handle on the virus. South Korea has been showing the world how it’s done with free tests and treatment to encourage people to get checked. They have kept a clear and honest account of everyone affected, and they have been putting out consistently reliable information. If Americans think our system has that beat, they are about to have a very rude awakening. Even the Boris Johnson administration in the U.K. is shocked at how badly the U.S. is handling the situation.

This virus is creating a perfect storm of system failures for the USA, and America is about to find out just how third-world its infrastructure really is.

Here is a summary, in that list format the internet loves so much:

Top 5 Ways the United States is Facing A Serious Crisis Due to COVID-19

  1. No decent health care, and the majority of people in the service industry do not have insurance, cannot afford time off, and have no paid sick days. A lot of people will refuse treatment or testing because they cannot afford it.
  2. Similarly, if schools must close, there are too many families that cannot afford day care and cannot stay home to look after their children.
  3. There is a shortage of testing kits and other necessary medical equipment in the U.S., and many rural/impoverished regions in the U.S. lack the medical personnel and equipment to keep up with demand.
  4. There is too much disinformation in the United States, with differing opinions replacing factual, reliable, and sensible information. CNN is too overly simplistic, Fox News is to fucking nuts, and the White House is shouting down scientists and medical experts. And don’t get me started on Pence and the Evangelicals who are probably secretly praising this as proof that their End of Days/Rapture plan is working.
  5. Our president is a deranged idiot who can’t see past his own popularity numbers to work together with the government as a whole to create a unified front against the coming disaster, or at least work out a basic stimulus plan to protect the millions of families that simply cannot afford this shit right now. I’m not saying the Democrats are doing much better… but at least some of them were trying to do something about basic health care. That would have been a start.

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