Things are gonna change

April 22nd, 2020 by Nick Jacobs Leave a reply »

Things are gonna change after COVID

According to the medical examiners, the primary underlying conditions leading to death in the victims of this pandemic are hypertension and diabetes, chronic conditions brought on by environment and diet.

The fact that COVID is disproportionately impacting marginated communities should not be a surprise to anyone. A healthy public depends upon diet through fresh, healthy foods which are more expensive and in “Urban Food Deserts” almost impossible to find or afford. Plus, health is also related to the environment (think Flynt, Michigan), and sustainable employment.

We have produced so much vulnerability in the U.S. through our current circumstances that analyzing this disaster without properly taking into consideration our pre-existing health care crisis is, in itself, a crisis. Would we scrutinize this differently if we looked at our current system more holistically?

We have huge disparities in both our healthcare system and our public health system. We have been preparing for another pandemic since 1918, yet we were woefully unprepared for even the most basics of PPE, available ventilators, and ICU beds.

In an article titled “Disasters, Capitalism, and COVID-19” by Vincennes Adams, Naomi Klein describes disaster capitalism as a form of economics that responds to disasters in ways that promote “free-market, for-profit, corporate solutions.” She says, “It may succeed in creating company profits but ultimately fails in terms of democracy, fairness, and justice.”

She describes the Hurricane Katrina disaster as being caused, in part, by the privatization of the Army Corps of Engineers and the oil industry’s erosion of protective wetlands. The highest death tolls, financial, and material losses affected the most vulnerable social and economic groups. During the recovery, private sector contractors rewarded themselves richly while ordinary people were left to make it on their own.

I’m watching this same phenomenon unfold today with Community Health Centers across Pennsylvania as they try to get the needed Personal Protection Equipment. Wealthier health systems, States, and the Federal Government can buy the large quantities required to meet the corporate criteria for these purchases while the marginalized become further marginalized.

Why aren’t the flu, viral colds, heart disease, cancer and diabetes deaths considered disasters? It’s because of the immediacy of death with COVID. The author suggests: “Imagine how U.S. health care institutions and government responses might change if cancer, heart disease, and diabetes were framed in the same language and sense of urgency as COVID-19.”

According to the author, It’s because these diseases are “an outcome of allowing corporations to sell deadly, heart-disease producing foods and barely regulating cancer-causing chemicals at all.” This country has always had a very hard time determining the differences between the value of corporate profits vs.human life.

The article references a “pandemic industrial complex,” which, like the military industrial complex uses the disaster to form a framework in which government and financial resources are mobilized to leverage free market investing in the next big outbreak.

Global warming has contributed to fires, floods, hurricanes, and now unique viral mutations. The new prognosticators of these disasters are computational and zoonosis biologists, epidemiologists and geneticists.

What they have been able to point out to us is not necessarily the coming disasters as much as the pre-existing vulnerabilities, and they’ve been able to do it in ways that also predict capitalistic disaster as well.

If our population were more health conscious, had better access to health insurance, and was less influenced by the free capitalism that continuously promotes products that are detrimental to our health, a disaster already created by a capitalist free market, would this be a different set of analytics?

Is COVID-19 the disaster, or is our real United States disaster the lack of a functioning health care safety-net for our most vulnerable? The primary question we should be considering is: can we change that future for our kids and grandkids? Wuhan, China reopened today after 10 weeks, but nothing is the same.

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