MFA and COVID19 Update – December 27, 2020

Dec 28, 2020

By Dr. Bill Honigman, PDA Healthcare Human Rights, Coordinator – Progressive Democrats of America

This week, worldwide total cases of #COVID19 appear to be leveling off overall as global week-to-week increases dropped from last week’s 5.4 million to this week’s 4.3 million, including in the US which actually dropped a bit from last week’s 1.42 million increase in reported new cases to 1.41 million this past week.  Although in some countries like Russia there continues to be a slight rise in cases, and in the UK there’s even a spike of new cases now widely thought especially to be due to the new more contagious form of Sars-CoV-2, and other countries such as Japan, France, Spain, Sweden, and Canada are now reporting seeing this new variety of the virus as well.

Here in the US, while cases surpassed first the 18 million mark then the 19 million mark, and the COVID19 deaths this week reached a total of 330,000, the focus of national attention as regards the pandemic was still on the vaccine rollouts, who was getting theirs and who wasn’t yet, and the prospect of a COVID relief package being held up by the antics of a petulant loser Denier-in-Chief soon-to-be Ex-President and his congressional Republican enablers.  

Overall case numbers for the US, are likely now more reflective of COVID19 prevalence than in earlier months of the pandemic here, as testing has finally become more available in more communities across the country, with fewer restrictions to access, including personal cost to obtain a test, or disqualifiers based on history of symptoms or a known exposure.

Nonetheless, this weeks’ total US COVID deaths were still a staggering 16,954, which at least is lower than last weeks’ much worse 23,086 deaths. 

The University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) projects that while about 500,000 total US COVID deaths are likely by April 1, that number could be as much as 730,000 if states ease their mandates for masks and social distancing too soon.  That while as many as 33,000 lives could be saved by vaccinations, more rapid rollouts could save as many as 45,000 lives instead.  Significantly also they note, the use of masks has increased now to about 74% nationwide, but if improved to 95% it would save as many as 49,000 more from dying of COVID19.

California is the outlier among the states this week with especially bad numbers, and the prevalence of the disease is now about one in every 20 Californians.  All of us here in the golden state seem to know someone struggling with the disease or even who has died from it. 

California Governor Gavin Newsom does attribute this surge to lax attitudes toward recognized public health measures and ill-advised gatherings during the holidays.

My own nephew, a Respiratory Therapist in California’s Central Valley, whose story as an Iraq War veteran who returned to the US and tried to have a career in community policing after his father’s lifelong work but found it too traumatic so he turned to the Healthcare field, helping especially those with breathing issues so severe as to need ventilators and other intensive care measures, contracted COVID this last week.  This after he had warned us all of the seriousness of the COVID19 illness that he was seeing every day since it first hit our shores last spring.  He feels very certain that he acquired the virus when his N95 mask became loose while repositioning a COVID19 patient and he could actually smell an odor from the room, which should not happen when wearing a properly fitted mask.  He’s been struggling with fevers, severe body aches, and cough for a week, and on Christmas Day became worse, got admitted to the hospital himself, and is now on four IV drugs to fight off his COVID pneumonia.

I was also quite taken this week by the stories of more and more recognized fallen frontline Healthcare workers, who continue to be inadequately staffed or supplied with PPE, including a recent report of nearly 3,000 total such workers believed to have died from COVID19 in the US to date.

And in particular the story of Dr. Susan Moore, must be included.  She was an African American physician in her early 50’s from Indiana who after having been denied care multiple times died from her COVID19. 

These are atrocities, that even much before the denials of care take place, how many of our frontline workers are still being denied adequate PPE, being told to re-use their N95 masks despite the fact that they were never designed for that purpose, and no longer fit properly if worn for too long?  How many of them are being asked to wear a patient gown because a splash-resistant surgical gown or other tested and approved isolation gown at their hospital is in too short supply?  And especially how many of them are still being asked to work countless overtime hours and shifts in overcrowded and unsafe settings, exposing themselves and their families to the vagaries of this disease to protect somebody else’s bottom line, not the lives of their patients, their family members, or themselves as they should be doing?

Isn’t it past time for a #SinglePayer expanded and improved #MedicareForAll system with we the people making those life-and-death Healthcare emergency decisions to be in charge instead of some commercial corporate interests like we have now?  Absolutely, it is.


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