Health Policy

April 1, 2020: Ignorant and Dictatorial

Posted on April 01, 2020 at 12:00 AM

In 2017, #45 came roaring into Washington, DC determined to establish a CEO-driven presidency. He did not know our Constitution or separation of powers, nor how our legislative process works. He still doesn’t.

In contrast, in 2014, President Obama declared the Ebola virus a “security risk.” He conferred with other countries, and he appointed a medically knowledgeable “Ebola Czar” to supervise and keep the American public informed. The budget of $145 million included a stable CDC group that would be prepared for the next. As soon as Trump took over, John Bolton, having no medical expertise, fired the “Pandemic Czar,” and 700 CDC employees. Tax cuts for corporations and billionaires were more important.

But three years later, we are on the front end of a coronavirus pandemic unseen since the Spanish flu of 1918, which killed 50 million people, including 675,000 Americans. And we are receiving our medical information from a president who makes things up. Our Trump-appoint “czar” is Vice President Pence, who also knows nothing, yet all information must come from him.  Fortunately, 319 “Donor Groups” have pledged over $8.3 billion to China and middle income countries. But Trump has alienated most other countries, so we must finance care of our fellow citizens ourselves. Fortunately, Congress upped Trump’s requested $2.5 billion to fight the impending pandemic to $8.3 billion. Things we have to do include:

  • All persons must be tested for COVID-19 virus and the testing shall be free.
  • We need a coherent plan to isolate persons known to be infected in their homes.
  • Because hospitals will be swamped, we need to expand 24-hour telephone access to medical personnel.
  • Patient care facilities must have equipment to protect physicians, nurses, and other health care workers.
  • Elective surgery must be postponed.
  • Health care personnel’s vacations will be cancelled.
  • Production of N95 face masks must be increased ASAP. Most facilities have only a 24-hour supply.
  • All emergency personnel, police, and firefighters must have N95 face masks and gloves.
  • Medicaid must be expanded so people not covered by insurance can receive health care funding.
  • Employees must be allowed to telecommute, and workers who cannot telecommute must be paid the equivalent of sick leave.
  • Students of all ages must have access to remote schooling. Accordingly, we must buy laptops for impoverished students.
  • Students who are fed at school will need alternative plans to receive adequate nutrition.
  • All infected adults must be paid whether or not they have paid sick leave.
  • Adults who care for infected children or adults must also have funded sick leave.
  • All large gatherings must be cancelled, and smaller gatherings must have adequate air flow between attendees.

This is the beginning. We have been warned. We know how we must behave and care for one another. Now we have to force the President and members of government to meet their responsibilities.

— Karen Pataky, Director for Public Policy and Chair, Health Policy Task Force 

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