MFA and COVID19 Update – August 29, 2021
By Dr. Bill Honigman, Healthcare Human Rights, Coordinator – Progressive Democrats of America
This week, world cases of #COVID19 were up by another 4.6 million reported new cases, that’s about 5 million less than last week’s rise in new cases worldwide, and total global deaths rose by another 71 thousand, an increase of about 3 thousand from last week’s rise. Case numbers are still rising in the US and the UK again this week, but still leveling or declining everywhere else in the advanced and highly populated parts of the world.
And global vaccinations picked up a bit this week, by about 2% of world population, with an estimated 26.9% of the total world population now thought to be fully vaccinated. That compares with and is approaching the US’ worst state for percentage vaccinated of Alabama at about 37% of the total population for that state.
Here in the US, the rate of rise in new cases is notably less than previous recent weeks. Dr. Walensky of the CDC noted this week that we have gone from a 12% increase in cases last week to only 3% increase this week.
However, the US continues as we have from the outset of this pandemic, to lead in total and per capita deaths due to COVID19.
This week the US has reported 8,966 new COVID deaths. That’s almost 2 thousand more than last week’s, or an average now of about 1,280 lives lost per day here, which for visualization’s sake you might think of as 4 passenger jets at capacity crashed per day, or one of the twin towers of the World Trade Center going down, per day.
That does amount to a total US COVID death toll now of 637,066. And that gives an estimated total of 254,826 US COVID deaths prevented or lives saved, if we had a #SinglePayer expanded and improved #MedicareForAll system in place to deal with this pandemic.
For those who have been following those numbers week-by-week as we have, that’s an additional approximately 3,000 fellow Americans who lost their lives in the US just this week alone because politicians and elected officials in this country still will not follow the political will of the people that favor a national health system and health plan that would provide not only full COVID-care but also full non-COVID-care that fully treats diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, and all medical conditions that put us at risk for all deadly diseases, not just COVID19.
Our vaccination rate per capita, has picked up a bit since more leaders especially in the states hardest impacted by the Delta variant have turned to a new level of advocacy, especially now that the FDA announced full approval of one of the vaccines in a prescribed age group. And this has enabled certain commercial entities to step up and require employees to get vaccinated or suffer financial and other personal inconveniences if electing to still not get vaccinated.
Additionally, judicial pronouncements this week have overruled certain rogue governors who sought to impose their own political agendas on their states despite increased risks to their residents, and in particular putting children in their states in harm’s way for the sake of their personal political careers. Citing centuries old legal precedence for the protection of the public welfare, courts aren’t having any of that in this social and cultural debate, at least so far.
But of even more immediate interest at least with respect to what might be done to advance the cause of social justice in this ongoing public health disaster known as the COVID19 pandemic and now the Delta variant experience, is the observation by economic and financial experts that the vaccinated parts of the country are now carrying the unvaccinated regions economically in the recovery from last year’s economic downturn.
As they noted earlier this week in Bloomberg Businessweek, “The geography of America’s economic engine is heavily concentrated in counties that Joe Biden won in 2020. These counties are much more heavily vaccinated than the rest of the country and thus better able to withstand the economic effects of COVID’s Delta variant. The 520 counties Biden won account for fully 71% of US GDP, while the 2,564 that Trump carried produced just 29%. In other words, America’s economic engine is bluer than ever.”
And given that level of economic recognition, it seems painfully ironic that there is still any opposition to investing in those economic drivers of human and physical infrastructure currently being debated among members of Congress in the budget and reconciliation bills and the Build Back Better Act advocated by the Biden administration. In particular, why would those status quo Democrats and Republicans whose constituents, and therefore their own re-election bids, benefit most from being on board with it? It makes no sense, especially no dollars and cents.
And in particular, the parts of the Build Back Better proposal that address the existential threats of climate, health, poverty, and racial inequity, only stand to improve our global economic standing and competitiveness. So, who in their right minds could still oppose that? Anyone, Bueller, anyone?
Medicare expansion will get us closer to Healthcare as a human right. Along those lines, it was remarkably encouraging, to hear President Biden say recently in his address on lowering prescription drug costs through Medicare negotiated prices, that he believes it is no longer acceptable that big pharma be allowed to price their products based on “what the market will allow” rather than what provides for the needs of the population it alleges to serve.
This is a tribute to those in the movement for #HealthcareJustice who have worked so hard to move the collective thinking on this issue. And, it is a sign of progress, albeit painfully slow especially in light of the continued suffering and losses that we talked about earlier.
Nonetheless, we should also take solace this week in seeing reports from some leaders of faith who have pointed out that despite the mind-blowing cultural divide that exists among us in America, we should remain sympathetic to those who are refractory to what might save us all, like vaccines, public masking, or investments in social works.
As Daniel Darling, who was recently fired from his position as national spokesperson for the National Religious Broadcasters for his public statements in favor of the vaccines pointed out, it’s a matter of trust. He said, “When trust goes down, belief in conspiracies goes up.” He criticized those who try to shame people who are vaccine fearful, or who rejoice when someone unvaccinated becomes ill with COVID19. “I do encourage folks to talk to their doctor and really consider it”, he said, “just because we just don’t want to see anyone else unnecessarily die of this lethal virus.”
And I wholeheartedly agree.