Masks and social distancing help…but are not enough. We are paying the collective price for a for profit health “care” system with the highest infection and death rate in the world. There is no end in sight as LA County nears 8,000 deaths and 25% in intensive care. Why can other countries beat this virus and the US can’t? Why is anti-science so strong, rejecting Coronavirus as a “con-job?” Why is there a shortage of PPE in the wealthiest country in the world and nurses have had to protest once again for necessary equipment? Why have 1,700 health care workers across the country died…while zero have died in Cuba?
Nine months into a deadly pandemic, workers, farmers and small proprietors of all kinds face a deep and intertwined crisis of jobs, wages, safety and health. Neither party has acted to provide new stimulus checks for individuals and small businesses, each blaming the other. New shutdowns in California promise tens of thousands of new unemployed workers. We are told to wait and place our faith in Biden, Newsom or Garcetti as more of us become unemployed and near homelessness.
Millions are without jobs. Hospitalizations are up 40%. Food banks are overrun, especially heading into Thanksgiving. People waited hours in San Pedro for the distribution of 2,000 turkeys. The few remaining supplemental government aid programs run out in a month. And state and city governments are moving to impose new lockdowns without providing financial relief.
Governments at all levels and the owners of the nation’s hospitals, drug monopolies, nursing homes and the rest of the for-profit health industry are little better prepared for the current surge in coronavirus infections than they were in the spring. Kaiser Permanente nurses in LA are protesting once again for PPE. Eli Lilly, Pfizer, Moderna, Regeneron, and others have reaped hundreds of millions at the public trough and STILL we are charged for testing and how about the future vaccine?
PIX—- REUTERS/IVAN PIERRE AGUIRRE
Hospital workers move bodies into refrigerated trailer in El Paso, Texas, Nov. 16. Shortage of beds, staff, equipment in for-profit hospital system increases toll of coronavirus pandemic.
We can expect that working people will get as little protection from the pandemic, unemployment and rising prices from a Joe Biden administration as we do today from that of President Trump if we don’t act collectively, in the millions as we did in the protests against the cop killing of George Floyd and hundreds of others.
Our unions must take the lead now, not waiting for promises on January 20. The AFL-CIO needs to speak up and organize the fight for a government-funded public works program to put millions back to work at union-scale wages to build the hospitals, schools, housing and other things we need. And for universal government-guaranteed health care for all from cradle to grave.
Medical workers are inundated throughout California as hospitalization rates soar. Nurses report COVID-19 patients are being left to die with minimal efforts to resuscitate the worst affected. “There’s not enough nurses to take care of all the patients that are coming in,” Idali Cooper, a nurse at Hospitals of Providence Memorial, told KFOX-TV.
At a virtual press conference held Monday, Nov. 23 to brief the nation on the challenges they face now as Covid-19 surges in almost every state, National Nurses United RNs passionately urged their employers, government, and the public to “Listen to nurses” and follow the science of infection control that the country needs to mitigate the catastrophic death and suffering they are anticipating heading into the winter and holiday seasons. Nurses at UCLA held a solidarity picket informing the public of the inadequate health care for Covid patients.
‘Health care’ crisis under capitalism
After years of hospital closures, especially in rural areas, and the refusal of management to sacrifice profits to store equipment and medicine for a second wave, hospitals in many states are already close to capacity. The closest intensive care unit for anyone with COVID in Kearny County, Kansas, is now a six-hour drive to Kansas City.
Given the failure of hospital owners to train and hire sufficient numbers of medical workers, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum has instructed medical personnel infected with COVID-19, but who are asymptomatic, to keep working, even though they are carrying the contagious disease and can spread it in hospital rooms, as well as in restrooms and cafeterias.
In Langhorne, Pennsylvania, some 800 nurses at St. Mary Medical Center went on strike Nov. 17, in an ongoing fight over inadequate staffing levels combined with inadequate pay.
Elderly residents, who are packed into some 15,000 nursing homes across the country, face the highest COVID infection rates since August, especially with the virus spreading to more rural areas where there are fewer medical services. US rulers have long considered the elderly disposable, since they can no longer profit by exploiting them.
It does not have to be this way In a country such as Cuba, with a socialist society and health care based on people’s needs and not profits, the pandemic has been successfully managed. Health care is free- from birth to death.
With a similar population to LA County, Cuba has only 132 deaths, and under 50 new infections daily. Their doctors live in their communities, know the patients and the ratio of doctors to patients is 1:150.
LA County clocks in at 362,000 total infections (daily 4,000+) and nearly 8,000 deaths. And this country attacks Cuba for sending medical teams world-wide. Maybe we need them to come here to LA? And if you live in the US colony of Puerto Rico… which has less than half the population of Cuba. Puerto Rico, 85,000 total cases, and over 1100 deaths.
Workers face lockdowns, job cuts
For the first time since the beginning of the pandemic, the number of unemployed workers who have been permanently laid off exceeded those who are on temporary layoff. Retail chains have shut down 47,000 stores and more closures are threatened.
In response to new lockdowns, bosses everywhere are cutting workers or slashing their hours and pay. More working people face plummeting incomes at the same time prices of gasoline, meat, eggs and other necessities are rising.
Workers need to fight for jobs, to be working side by side with fellow workers, to be able to fight together as a class. This is the only road forward to solve today’s economic, social and health crises — all products of the workings of the dog-eat-dog capitalist system. We need a national health care plan (not a tweaked Obamacare) , free for all, something which the new Biden administration opposes.
This post was originally published on Radio Free.