The wreckage of all destructive storms reveals the weaknesses and flaws of the impacted structures. The coronavirus pandemic, like a devastating storm, made debris of America’s health care and economy. Its tragic death toll disclosed disproportionate vulnerability to infections among African Americans and Hispanics. Trump, living in his own reality, exacerbated matters.
In less than one month, the virus overwhelmed America’s medical capacities to combat its challenges. At first our president called it a hoax. He bemoaned the “mess” he “inherited” from the previous administration, but he did not offer any constructive solutions. In fact, he became part of the problem. In an attempt to evade his obligation to form and lead a response to the crisis, he announced that the storm would just blow over.
As the crisis persisted, the President touted unproven medications and therapies. He contradicted and demeaned world-renowned doctors and epidemiologists who served as advisors. Eventually, he declared the virus invasion a “war” and with a self-aggrandizing gesture, standing on a mountain summit of victims’ body bags, proclaimed himself a “wartime president.”
On a Sunday morning Meet the Press, Chuck Todd posed a question: “Is the disproportionate death toll from the virus pandemic among minorities of color an MRI of America’s socioeconomic structure?”
The answer is a resounding “Yes!” The scan reveals the results of long-term, insidious, systematic underfunding, under-serving, squalor-producing economic oppression of the underprivileged.
As the crisis intensified, doctors, nurses, and support personnel stepped up to the front lines. They encountered shortages of personal protective equipment but continued their quest. They risked their lives in infection-laden facilities. Scarcity of medical supplies and equipment hindered their work. They also suffered mental, emotional, combat-like stress inflicted by the overabundance of death in their workplace. Some became wounded healers.
On April 27, 2020, Dr. Lorna M. Breen, formerly New York ER medical director, committed suicide. She had recovered from the COVID-19 virus infection, returned to work, and fell victim to an affliction that is killing multitudes of our combat veterans. The condition is “survivor’s guilt.” It is a factor of the PTSD syndrome. It’s an infection that cannot be prevented with surgical gowns or masks.
The shutdown of the country furloughed more than 12 million workers overnight. The number quickly rose to over 30 million. Thirty million households lost livelihood, and the economy lost at least 30 million consumers.
President Trump’s expectation of a speedy economic recovery demonstrates how out of touch he is with reality. Estimates indicate that more than 30 percent of small businesses are likely to declare bankruptcy in the year 2020 after the “reopening” of the country.
America’s economic recovery is certain to be excruciatingly painful and slow. Pie-in-the-sky expectations of an instantaneous restart is delusional, disingenuous, or both. The $1,200 per person economic relief checks from the Treasury are inadequate, even as short-term relief.
Trump cannot be blamed for the onslaught of the virus, its death toll, and its economic side effect. But the President’s inability and unwillingness to take a timely amount of prevention clearly demonstrates his unacceptable ineptness in problem-solving.