MFA and COVID19 Update – December 20, 2020
By Dr. Bill Honigman, PDA Healthcare Human Rights, Coordinator – Progressive Democrats of America
This week, worldwide cases of COVID19 continue to rise, at least as best as can be determined, with a week-to-week increase from 5.1 million last week to about 5.5 million this week for a total now globally of about 76 million cases of infection which is about the size of two Californias worth of infected persons. Some leveling off still of cases in France and even slight decreasing numbers in India is ongoing, thankfully, however the world leaders in new cases and deaths, namely the U.S., Brazil, and Russia continue their increases.
And the spike in infections seen recently in the U.K. now has scientific support for the idea of a mutant strain of coronavirus, one with increased infectivity due to an enhanced spike protein on the virus’ outer surface, but also a scientific belief there that the newly released vaccines will retain their effectiveness despite this change in the organism’s structure.
Here in the US, COVID deaths topped 310,000, well past the 3,000 per day mark on most days this week, that had been predicted by public health experts back in the summer and early fall. We are not yet seeing the peak of this “winter peak”, hence all of the advisements still in effect to continue public health measures including anti-social behaviors during the time of year that we might all rather be doing otherwise.
All of this is against the backdrop of the initially shocking reports of “0 ICU beds now available” in a great number of various communities all across the US. At the same time, we’re now seeing the initiation of vaccinations being rolled out, at least now to frontline healthcare workers, and to some high-profile personalities who to their credit, are themselves trying to lead by example and demonstrate the need and willingness to be the guinea pigs for such efforts in a very public display to attempt to contain this very public scourge.
Incidentally, science-deniers and contrarians, especially those who espouse their beliefs on certain well know conservative media outlets and who may have the letter “R” after their name if they happen to hold partisan elected office, continue to undermine public trust in these efforts, claiming their individual right to refuse participation supersedes the public interest in containing the disease. This even with some themselves very conspicuously becoming victims of the disease and even dying as a result, as did Republican Minnesota State Senator Jerry Relph just this last Friday.
Also being brought to light this week is the narrative supported by a couple of recent studies showing significant impact of COVID19 on the particular age group of adults age 25 to 44, with what are called “excess deaths” meaning those beyond what would ordinarily be expected to kill those in this demographic to be considerable. This of course strongly argues against and belittles the public health myth that infected young adults would not somehow be seriously impacted and in fact lead to a dissemination of immunity that would control the disease sooner rather than later as many Trumpublicans have asserted.
Of particular note here, and a very hopeful one at that, is that one of the lead authors of one of these studies is in fact the Biden/Harris nominee to lead the CDC in the next term.
Also newsworthy for this week, was the released findings of a recent review of fiscal studies done by the independent Congressional Budget Office (CBO) which found, as have numerous previous academic and non-academic analyst group studies almost universally found, that proposed Single Payer expanded and improved Medicare for All systems of unified financing in America would in fact save tens or even hundreds of billions of dollars per year, while providing universal access to care with improved outcomes of care for everyone living in the US. And with COVID19 as a magnifier of these savings and outcomes, so too is the imperative magnified for this needed reform.
So political questions with this weeks’ pandemic news as always are many, but I think they can be ranked into what most would consider to be the top three.
First, on the issue of the vaccinations, what do we think of the roll outs to date? From what we can tell, situated as we are in our own private bunkers, do we think they’ve been fair, equitable, purposefully directed, adequate, and with enough messaging behind them to overcome the institutional bias that any of us might have to reject their use, or question their authenticity?
Second in the top three I think, is to consider those appointees by Biden/Harris related to Healthcare and perhaps also Climate, since we should concern ourselves always with the prospect of more pandemics predicted by climate scientists due to rising global temperatures. Last week we saw the choice of Latino politician CA Attorney General Xavier Becerra to be Secretary of the Dept. of Health and Human Services, and this week Rep. Deb Haaland of New Mexico to be Secretary of Dept. of the Interior, both leaders of BIPOC communities who have been profoundly impacted by inequities of this pandemic and other health hazards more generally. How do we feel about those appointments?
And third, there are rumblings of discontent in the People’s House, the US House of Representatives, that the leadership of Speaker Nancy Pelosi should be challenged specifically if she doesn’t move forward in this new Congress by finally bringing a National Single Payer expanded and improved Medicare for All bill to the House floor for a vote. And given the confirming updated findings of the CBO that MFA will save money and save lives, what do we think of that particular demand, at this particular time?
It does at least prompt the question of what’s commonly called “the progressive paradox”, that despite progressive policy like Medicare for All and the Green New Deal being incredibly popular, why do they not win more elections? Why do they not persuade more Members of Congress to step up and not step back, and do the right thing? Or, do they?