COVID-19: Real Plan Needed to Save Lives, End the Pandemic and Serve the Needs of the People

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After a full year of the Trump administration basically intentionally allowing COVID-19 to rip through the US population – with death toll exceeding 400K and accelerating – the crisis requires a full scale commitment to bring it even minimally under any kind of control.

The following excerpts a piece by Margaret Flowers in Truth Out

“There is a lot of hope that the incoming Biden administration will take more effective actions to mitigate the spread of the virus. Joe Biden has already appointed a COVID-19 task force of public health experts and the first bullet point in the updated Biden-Harris COVID-19 plan is “Listen to science.” But will the Biden administration really listen to science if that requires putting people’s needs above corporate profits?

Throughout his campaign, Joe Biden made it clear that his focus was on reopening businesses and schools. This was also Trump’s focus, so it remains to be seen if the Biden approach will be substantively different.

Perhaps the first warning sign came in the form of Biden’s response when COVID-19 Task Force member Michael Osterholm told the media that a national shutdown of four to six weeks with financial support for workers, businesses, and local and state governments was needed to slow the spread. Osterholm cited the examples of Australia and New Zealand, two countries that have been effective in controlling the pandemic, and that both used national shutdowns. The European Union, which is also experiencing a large surge in COVID-19 cases, is using national shutdowns to slow the spread, with positive effect.

Will the Biden administration really listen to science if that requires putting people’s needs above corporate profits?

In response to Osterholm’s statement, Celine Gounder, another task force member, said: “A national lockdown or shutdown is not on the table. The President-elect has no intention of implementing a national lockdown.” And in a recent press conference, President-elect Biden said, “I am not going to shut down the economy, period.”

It is also concerning that the updated Biden-Harris COVID-19 plan does not mention providing economic relief to families and workers. While it prioritizes testing, personal protective equipment and funds to make businesses safer, it says nothing about stopping evictions, providing monthly support checks or covering health care costs for people.

What Demands Should We Make of the Biden Administration?

Summarizing and paraphrasing from the Margaret Flowers Truthout piece:
“. . . the CDC needs to develop a clear national strategy with actions the states must take, sign off on state plans, and provide technical and financial support to implement them.”
There needs to be a national shut down of 4-6 weeks and that needs to include economic relief for families and workers, including paying workers to stay home.  Unfortunately . . . “The updated Biden-Harris COVID-19 plan does not mention providing economic relief to families and workers.”
The plan needs to include protecting essential workers and their families.

Testing must be more available and “align it with people’s lived realities.

Provision of isolation units is beedd where people can quarantine if they test positive and don’t have a place to stay

There must be paid leave for workers to quarantine.

Police should not be employed to implement public health policies because that destroys trust. Instead of a punitive approach, we need an empowering approach that gives people what they need to protect themselves.
Transitioning quickly to a national public health system, such as Medicare for All is paramount.

Margaret Flowers concludes:
Given the power of the medical-industrial complex over the government and other corporate interests that oppose shutting businesses down, we are unlikely to see strong measures unless we organize and mobilize to demand them. The pandemic will be with us for the foreseeable future. Even when an effective vaccine is approved, it will take time to manufacture and administer enough doses to reduce viral transmission.

For now, we need to continue to take measures to prevent transmission of the virus and demand that beyond the Biden-Harris COVID-19 plan, Congress and the White House must also meet the economic, housing and health care needs of everyone. Access to tests, places to quarantine, paid sick leave and rebuilding trust through a health care system that puts people’s health over corporate profits will put us on the best path to containing this pandemic.

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