The Coming Minority and Poor Coronavirus Epidemic
We are about to witness the truth of the axiom that: you are only as healthy as the least among you. While thinking about this I see that Pete Buttigieg is way ahead of my thinking. The Rosy Trump Administration has said nothing about this. I hope that the much larger House appropriation bills pay attention to this.
There are said to be 44 million Americans without health care. I know that there are figures smaller than this, but it is still vast. There are more tens of millions without adequate plans, especially in paying for long term hospitalization. There are 500,000 homeless people, living in unwashed, cold, and very unsanitary conditions, and congregating together.
The confinement that comes with strict quarantining kills manufacturing and businesses, and puts people into harsh economic conditions. Supply lines have been and will be further interrupted. The most common cited data is that 40% of households could not take a $400 extra expense. There is an entire spread of economic hardship, especially with uncovered medical expenses. Even people who are more middle class are living paycheck to paycheck to make their monthly housing payments. Even housing aid programs run through banks are very reluctant to make or extend loans to temporarily unemployed or poor homeowners. We could see another housing crises and crash as occurred in 2008.
Mayor Pete pointed out that if we close schools, parents have to stay home, often without medical leave. Poorer children also rely on schools for their day care, food preparation and food support programs.
Children seem to be relatively unaffected by the Coronavirus. The safest environment for them might indeed be to spend the day among other children in school. Their teachers can be replaced immediately if they show symptoms of a cold, the flu, or the Coronavirus. Children who show symptoms can immediately be spotted and sent to the school nurse to be picked up by their parents or sent to a hospital.
The 11 million undocumented immigrants probably do not have health care. They could still get free health care in the country in which they are citizens. This separation will strain and separate families. In their jobs, they are nannies, cooks, farm workers, gardeners, construction workers, etc. They are then often mixed with the general population, and their illness would rapidly become American illnesses. Funds must be provided for their Coronavirus health care, and a sanctuary freedom from ICE reporting and deportation. California will be a leader in this area. Even Trump has employed the undocumented as maids and groundskeepers.
I am not an expert in this area, so there will be many more repercussions, as well as to many middle class Americans. Mike Pence as Governor of Indiana proved to be very doctrinaire and insensitive to the needs of minorities and those with health needs. He was one of the budget cutters and attackers of the social nets. Trump and Republicans have spent years trying to cut or cripple the Affordable Care Act. They are still cutting food stamps and school lunch programs, and requiring parents to work for these programs. We haven’t heard a peep about family support from the Administration for those affected by the Coronavirus. In fact, Trump wanted to take $1.25 billion from the home heating program for the poor to put into the Coronavirus fund. That creates the very conditions leading to infections.
California is starting out to look like it will be one of the hardest hit states by the Coronavirus. We also have a large fraction of the undocumented immigrants, more than two million. Since we are solid Democratic, we might expect little aid from the Trump Administration.
Update, Feb. 29: Undocumented immigrants are about 1/10 of the US workforce. From 2013 data, there are about 2.7 million in California. The four Counties with the largest number are: Los Angeles, 814,000; Orange, 248,000; Santa Clara, 184,000; and San Diego, 171,000.
We all have to support each other in order to get through this.