Yesterday, the Democrats in the Senate overwhelmingly rejected the stimulus package put forward by Mitch McConnell and the GOP, and it is important that they did. We all understand that Congress should be acting fast to save the economy, but it’s crucial to understand why we need to save the workers and not bail-out the corporations (without at least requiring they keep their workers employed). Check out this website if you haven’t seen it yet. It basically outlines what measures are required to save each of our states from a healthcare overload. Here’s California:
If you isolate the shelter-in-place (or stay in your damn home) graph, it looks like this:
In California, things get real bad until May 18th, and then they start to improve, but importantly, we stay under the point in which the healthcare system becomes too overloaded, and an overloaded healthcare system can mean the difference between a 1 percent death rate and a 4 or 5 percent death rate, as in Italy (meanwhile, Germany’s death rate is like .32 because they are BOSS).
However, in order for shelter in place to work, American workers have to be able to pay their rent/mortgage and buy groceries, otherwise, there will be immense pressure to go back to work to save their own lives and that of their families. If people can’t afford to stay in, they’ll go back to work, and if they go back to work, the social distancing measures are pointless. So, public health and the economy go hand-in-hand here. You gotta stay in your homes to avoid putting a strain on the health system, and you can’t stay at home if you can’t afford to pay rent on your home, so that’s what the government has to come in and fix. We’re going to be in this for a while. We need Congress to make it possible for us to get to the other side. I don’t know exactly what measures have to be taken, but the broad parameters feel pretty simple: I mean, in the UK, everyone gets up to 80 percent of their pay, I think. That should do it! That should keep America’s non-essential workforce inside watching Netflix.
If you haven’t seen it yet, there’s also a pretty great piece from the NYTimes about the harsh measures necessary to defeat this thing. There are some pretty interesting insights there, although I really love this paragraph:
If it were possible to wave a magic wand and make all Americans freeze in place for 14 days while sitting six feet apart, epidemiologists say, the whole epidemic would sputter to a halt.
Yes! Let’s do that! Can we? Let’s rip the band-aid off and get this over in 14 days! (Remember how we all used to daydream about what we’d do if we won the lottery? Now we daydream about what we can do to get to the other side of this. My daydream is that no one in the United States leaves their house for two weeks).
For real, though, the piece outlines the measures necessary, and while I do not have trust in the federal government to implement the necessary procedures, for some reason, it’s comforting for me to know that there is a way out. Also, the stats suggest that the virus seems to mostly affect clusters “‘of family members, friends and work colleagues’, said Dr. David L. Heymann, who chairs an expert panel advising the World Health Organization on emergencies.” This is one of the reasons we need to keep people who are in the cities in the cities and keep people who don’t live in the cities out of the cities. Also, wealthy New Yorkers with second homes in Maine and Vermont? Stop spreading the virus to other states! Stay where you are for at least 14 days, and if after 14 days you do not have any symptoms, you can drive here if you avoid everyone else, but please bring your own toilet paper.
Finally, this is something everything should know, I think: Losing one’s sense of smell and taste seems to be a symptom in a ton of (mostly) mild cases, up to potentially 30 percent. Not everyone can be tested, obviously, so we all have to pretend as though we have it and act accordingly. But if you lose your sense of smell or taste: Congratulations, you probably have a mild case. Also, stay the hell away from people. That is a marker of the virus. Also, please take a shower. Just because you can’t smell how ripe you are doesn’t mean your roommate or loved one cannot.