The United States, and more importantly, the world, is experiencing a healthcare crisis. A new coronavirus strain, known as COVID-19 or Novel Coronavirus, is wreaking havoc around the globe. Initially rearing its ugly head in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China, it has spread around the world. To underscore how serious the problem is, Italy has set a mandatory quarantine for 16 million people in regions including Milan and Venice. In Italy, at least 6,000 people have contracted the virus, and the number is increasing in other parts of the world at an alarming rate. Two thousand two hundred and thirty six have died and over 75,000 have been infected in China. In the United States, at press time, there have been 500 cases with 22 deaths.
It’s interesting how something as small as a virus can have a devastating impact on all of the world’s people. Some people are panicking, and fear of the virus is causing people to behave in extreme ways. Sadly, those who are inclined to benefit from crisis or chaotic situations are having a ball; price gouging is going on in full force with people selling masks at huge profits, some being sold for hundreds of dollars, even though health officials are saying the masks will provide minimal protection.
The word has gone out to stay away from large gatherings of people to avoid transmission. A couple of large conventions have canceled their events, losing thousands of dollars in the process, and some corporations and schools are making plans to allow their employees to work from home.
What is coronavirus? It was first identified in 1960, but the source of their origin is not known. The virus takes its name from its crown-like shape and causes an infection in the nose, sinuses, or upper throat. Most coronaviruses aren’t dangerous. The new strain, dubbed COVID-19, is not yet understood, and healthcare officials are in research mode in order to determine how to best address the problem. Those vulnerable to the most severe impact are the elderly, or people whose immune systems are compromised and those suffering from pre-existing conditions like diabetes, heart disease and lung disease. The common sense advice given to people in a quest to avoid becoming infected is to wash your hands and avoid touching your face, cough into your elbow, and stay home as much as possible. According to authorities, a vaccine won’t be available for at least a year and probably beyond that.
It is sad that the current presidential administration had basically dismantled the department that could effectively address a possible epidemic. Moreover, they seem to be very inept in dealing with the situation. At one point, President Trump even suggested that the problem would subside when the weather gets warmer. President Trump has recently appointed Dr. Ben Carson, the head of HUD, to lead the department that will address issues connected with the virus, including people quarantined on a cruise ship seeking entry into the U.S.
Hopefully, COVID-19 will not have the dire impact that some people are predicting. The problem is that it is an unknown. If the worst case scenario happens, our country, and the world, can be crippled economically, socially, spiritually and physically. People will not be able to go to their jobs; and food delivery and availability will be compromised. Already people are talking about a shortage of test kits that would help determine whether or not a person is infected.
The COVID-19 situation underscores the serious need for affordable healthcare. Healthcare is a right, not a privilege, especially in a world environment held hostage by industrial pollution and potential viral outbreaks such as the one that we are now experiencing. In the United States the profit motive fuels our healthcare system. Interestingly, recently before this current outbreak, software mogul Bill Gates predicted, in a Facebook post, that a worldwide pandemic was inevitable in the very near future. Was he prophetic, or something else? It’s an open secret that there are those who think that too many people are on the planet and that a culling is needed. Conspiracy theories aside, COVID-19 will force us to change the way we live and interact with each other. Hopefully, the positives will outweigh the negatives and we end up better off after weathering this storm. A Luta Continua.