The coronavirus has hit the United States mercilessly and has done a great deal of damage in a relatively short period of time. Originally, this virus was thought to be a threat mostly to those over 60. Witnessing the actual toll this plague is taking has been unnerving as we see people in their 20s, 30s and 40s succumb to the disease.
As New York City becomes the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the United States, this city is in the unenviable position of having tens of thousands of infections. In fact, the reality is that densely populated areas are highly susceptible to a virus spreading, and NYC is one of the most densely populated areas of the country. With there being a domestic travel advisory for the tri state area, it shows how serious this is.
Jacob Javits Center and part of Central Park have been turned into makeshift hospitals due to the overflow. It really puts in perspective the unfortunate outcome of closing so many hospitals in the city over the past 15 years. There are reports of overwhelmed hospitals in Queens and Brooklyn, and smaller clinics around the city and urgent cares are turning away COVID-19 patients. It goes to show that there needs to be a serious re-investment in the healthcare sector.
It is really not possible to speak of the American healthcare system as a single unit. What we have here is a confederation of disparate health care services that is dependent upon what we are able to afford as individuals, and varies in quality according to where you are on the societal hierarchy. A pandemic of this nature has not happened in over 100 years, and our national infrastructure was completely unprepared to deal with this. The lack of uniformity of response when it comes to different states is making matters worse. It makes it that much harder to spare more people from exposure.
The economic impact of COVID-19 is devastating. In a matter of three weeks, resulting from the necessary orders for social distancing and sheltering in place, it effectively put millions of people on the unemployment line.
One of the most disturbing aspects of this crisis is how easily disinformation and conjecture spread. At a time when people are suffering and passing, some see this as an opportunity to propagate theories that have little to do with what is actually occurring and do not point to any solutions either. What I am explicitly referring to is the notion that the rollout of 5G has something to do with the spread of the coronavirus. This is raised with very little to go on in terms of understanding what we are facing, and this backlash against reason is a sideshow that is profoundly unhelpful in the context of the present, invisible danger we are collectively facing.
After this is all over, this country needs to take a long, hard look at how it regards those who do manual labor. The people who keep the store shelves stocked and the buildings clean. There also needs to be a reckoning of sorts with the people in charge who saw this coming and decided to dump stocks and save their own wallets instead of warning the general public.
For the sake of truthfulness, it is completely possible that many of the businesses now shuttered will not be able to return.
Marc W. Polite is a writer, author, and social commentator.