Quick Thoughts on the Coronavirus Crisis


W.J. Astore

As millions of Americans are laid off or lose their jobs due to the coronavirus crisis, they often also lose their employer-provided health care.  You think maybe it’s finally time for Medicare For All?

Americans will have to rely increasingly on credit cards, which charge usurious interest rates of 25% or higher, even as the Fed has lowered the prime rate nearly to zero for banks.  Any chance that banks and credit card companies will dramatically lower their rates to help Americans in this time of crisis?

Speaking of credit card companies and high interest rates, guess who their greatest friend was in the U.S. Senate.  Yes, Joe Biden, Senator from Delaware, where laws favor banks and credit card companies.

Speaking of Joe Biden, guess who’s been virtually invisible during the coronavirus crisis.  His handlers apparently think Joe isn’t ready for prime time.  Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders has been raising millions for charity and promoting sensible ideas that are later adopted by the Trump administration.

The DNC, Nancy Pelosi, and Chuck Schumer don’t know what to think or do until their corporate masters provide guidance or give them permission.  Meanwhile, the Trump administration and the Republicans are filling the vacuum, even as they push legislation that supports their pet ideas and programs (restrictions on immigration, further attacks on public education, and the like).

Party-line Democrats want payments to Americans to be means-tested.  Yet help to corporations is never means-tested.  What gives?  In the spirit of trickle-down economics, expect a few drops of assistance to the poor and buckets-full of support for the rich.

Huge crises don’t always produce good leaders.  The Great Depression exposed Herbert Hoover and his small-minded thinking.  COVID-19 is exposing Trump for what he is: ignorant, lazy, incurious, incapable of empathy, petulant, and vain.  Meanwhile, as an alternative, the DNC puts forward Joe Biden, a corporate tool in his late seventies showing signs of confusion and cognitive decline.  Sadly, it’s not true that strong leaders arise to meet the moment — not in this White House, not in this corrupt political system.

Americans have been told for decades “You can have it all.”  To have “No Fear.”  To take selfies of ourselves and revel in our own individualism.  Even after the 9/11 attacks in 2001, our leaders told us to go shopping and visit Disney, to consume and party.  Now we’re being encouraged to come together, to help one another, to be unselfish, to live a life that’s not self-centered.  But in many cases it’s too late.  People aren’t listening.  They’ve been told forever to focus on themselves and their own self-actualization.  And you just don’t flip a propaganda/conditioning switch that easily.

That said, I salute our doctors, nurses, other medical personnel, and first responders.  I salute everyone working at supermarkets and hardware stores and the like, serving us all despite the risks.  I meet my neighbors on walks and I admire the spirit of friendliness and our collective willingness to help one another.  We’re going to need this spirit to get through the weeks and months ahead.

“Keep calm and wash your hands” is a sign I saw at my local bank.  It’s not the worst advice.  Be safe out there.

Update (3/23): To no surprise, a deeply corrupt and compromised political system is responding to this crisis in a deeply corrupt and compromised way.  Truly, this is a national emergency. And what is Congress doing to help ordinary people? Virtually nothing. The Senate’s “relief” package is relief for the rich and corporations and industries.

In this immense crisis, we are seeing the sheer awfulness of the religion of American capitalism.

As Trump has dithered and Biden has remained invisible, Bernie Sanders has led the charge, raising millions for charity and fighting for workers.  Why can’t people see this?


24 thoughts on “Quick Thoughts on the Coronavirus Crisis

  1. Just after I wrote this, I saw this article: “It’s morally repulsive how corporations are exploiting this crisis. Workers will suffer,” by Robert Reich


    “While generous toward airlines and other industries, the Republican bill is absurdly stingy toward people, stipulating a one-time payment of up to $1,200 for every adult and $500 per child. Some 64 million households with incomes below $50,000 would get as little as $600. This will do almost nothing to help job-losers pay their mortgages, rents, and other bills for the duration of the crisis, expected to be at least the next three months.”


  2. Let’s not overlook the clear evidence that Trump is also “showing signs of confusion and cognitive decline” — slurred speech, bungled language, chronic repetition of the words and phrases in his speech.

    It looks to me that the collateral damage from the response to the pandemic will be far more damaging in the long run than the virus ever could be if it kills 3% of those who contract it.


  3. Greetings from Texas (Tarrant Co) where our governor (Abbott) is leaving everything to the cities/counties to counter covid19. “Crickets” from him. Maybe he’s waiting for his overlords to tell him what to do. Blue counties (Dallas) have jumped on this virus and shut down the city early. Red counties (Tarrant) have not until recently. I work in a large hospital in Tarrant Co. We expect to be slammed in early April and it will be “all hands on deck”. We don’t have sick leave, per se, only Paid Time Off (PTO) to be used for any time off. However, we must work to earn it. I’ve been in healthcare long enough to bank and keep 80hrs PTO just in case, however most employees do not. We know that healthcare providers who acquire covid19 tend to get very sick (maybe bc of the increased viral load from our sickest patients). My coworkers and I pretty much assume we will become infected, it’s just a matter of when. While many are sleeping in their garage and isolating themselves from their families, some of us don’t have that option. If you go to a hospital for any reason, please be truthful when you get screened. Even if you think your cough or congestion is from allergies, don’t assume. Tell the screener up front so they can mask you. If you don’t need to go to the hosp then stay home. If I get sick, then more than likely my entire dept will need to self quarantine. So 1 infected healthcare provider can wreck havoc in a unit/floor.


    1. So true and my admiration and gratitude for you and your colleagues preparedness to save the lives of others, in spite of all the misinformation spouted by your government. I live in Europe in a country which luckily decided close-downs already some two weeks ago, but that’s no guarantee. However, this plague is global and each and everyone of us is co-responsible for containing its spread and allowing health providers not to get overwhelmed and suffer additionally because of our carelessness.
      And when we feel frustrated, I suggest a thought for the millions of people around the world who will not stand a chance against this. Not because of any fault of their own : people in war zones, refugee camps, overcrowded prisons, slums, ‘illegal’ migrants, none of whom can even dream of the health care we have, or even water to wash their hands or space to avoid too close contact with fellow human beings.

      And Bernie is so right about Cuba, in spite of its authoritarian missteps, having created an amazing health system, which keeps saving others around the world :
      I witnessed several of them in the 1980s working in remote places in Africa.
      As for Trumps touting of chloroquine as a soon available ‘miracle drug’ against the virus, it is utterly irresponsible – in addition to the statement simply not being true.
      In most African countries (and probably also other continents) it can be bought over the counter and people there might think that ‘if the US advocate it, it must be OK’ and decide to self-medicate with it.
      It probably saved my live several times when I suffered from malaria in the middle of nowhere in Africa without any medical support whatsoever, but it also is the cause of death of an unknown number of girls there, who use it for illegal abortions.
      An overdose is deadly and the line between a proper and excessive dose is thin.

      Thanks again and good luck :-).


  4. The daily death toll being reported from Italy is frightening. I don’t know what’s going on over there–was an especially virulent strain introduced to their turf?? We can only hope the mortality drops rapidly, since the country was put more or less on lockdown a couple of weeks ago (I think that’s the timeframe). I heard a bit of Mayor De Blasio addressing citizens of NYC on radio earlier today. It sounded like he was striving for an FDR “fireside chat” vibe. Incessant praise for emergency personnel and the like. I didn’t stay tuned, but it felt like he was setting those folks up for announcement of pretty draconian restrictions on their daily activity. We are about to see real Trickle Down Economics: the cascading impact on the labor force as Company A shuts its doors, and all the folks at Company B, which supplied them, lose their paychecks, etc. No paychecks = no income tax paid to Federal and state coffers. The National Debt is going to climb so high it will be easily visible from the International Space Station. Well, we can all sigh with relief that at least The Pentagon will continue to be well-funded and active, eh?


  5. I voted for Hillary Clinton and for Elizabeth Warren. I’m not sure what else I can do. I believe a Biden team or a Sanders team will be better for our country than this Trump team. But who knows, I am just a 79-year-old white guy.


  6. A time line:
    Here’s what the president said in public remarks, interviews and tweets from Jan. 22 to March 10 -– one day before the World Health Organization declared the global outbreak a pandemic.

    Jan. 22: “We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China. We have it under control. It’s going to be just fine.” — Trump in a CNBC interview.

    Jan. 30: “We think we have it very well under control. We have very little problem in this country at this moment — five — and those people are all recuperating successfully. But we’re working very closely with China and other countries, and we think it’s going to have a very good ending for us … that I can assure you.” — Trump in a speech in Michigan.

    Feb. 10: “Now, the virus that we’re talking about having to do — you know, a lot of people think that goes away in April with the heat — as the heat comes in. Typically, that will go away in April. We’re in great shape though. We have 12 cases — 11 cases, and many of them are in good shape now.” — Trump at the White House. (See our item “Will the New Coronavirus ‘Go Away’ in April?“)

    Feb. 14: “There’s a theory that, in April, when it gets warm — historically, that has been able to kill the virus. So we don’t know yet; we’re not sure yet. But that’s around the corner.” — Trump in speaking to National Border Patrol Council members.

    Feb. 23: “We have it very much under control in this country.” — Trump in speaking to reporters.

    Feb. 24: “The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA. We are in contact with everyone and all relevant countries. CDC & World Health have been working hard and very smart. Stock Market starting to look very good to me!” — Trump in a tweet.

    Feb. 26: “So we’re at the low level. As they get better, we take them off the list, so that we’re going to be pretty soon at only five people. And we could be at just one or two people over the next short period of time. So we’ve had very good luck.” — Trump at a White House briefing.

    Feb. 26: “And again, when you have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero, that’s a pretty good job we’ve done.” — Trump at a press conference.

    Feb. 26: “I think every aspect of our society should be prepared. I don’t think it’s going to come to that, especially with the fact that we’re going down, not up. We’re going very substantially down, not up.” — Trump at a press conference, when asked if “U.S. schools should be preparing for a coronavirus spreading.”

    Feb. 27: “It’s going to disappear. One day — it’s like a miracle — it will disappear.” — Trump at a White House meeting with African American leaders.

    Feb. 29: “And I’ve gotten to know these professionals. They’re incredible. And everything is under control. I mean, they’re very, very cool. They’ve done it, and they’ve done it well. Everything is really under control.” — Trump in a speech at the CPAC conference outside Washington, D.C.

    March 4: “[W]e have a very small number of people in this country [infected]. We have a big country. The biggest impact we had was when we took the 40-plus people [from a cruise ship]. … We brought them back. We immediately quarantined them. But you add that to the numbers. But if you don’t add that to the numbers, we’re talking about very small numbers in the United States.” — Trump at a White House meeting with airline CEOs.

    March 4: “Well, I think the 3.4% is really a false number.” — Trump in an interview on Fox News, referring to the percentage of diagnosed COVID-19 patients worldwide who had died, as reported by the World Health Organization. (See our item “Trump and the Coronavirus Death Rate.”)

    March 7: “No, I’m not concerned at all. No, we’ve done a great job with it.” — Trump, when asked by reporters if he was concerned about the arrival of the coronavirus in the Washington, D.C., area.

    March 9: “So last year 37,000 Americans died from the common Flu. It averages between 27,000 and 70,000 per year. Nothing is shut down, life & the economy go on. At this moment there are 546 confirmed cases of CoronaVirus, with 22 deaths. Think about that!” — Trump in a tweet.

    March 10: “And we’re prepared, and we’re doing a great job with it. And it will go away. Just stay calm. It will go away.” — Trump after meeting with Republican senators.

    A day later, on March 11, the WHO declared the global outbreak a pandemic.

    After denying and doing nothing about the Corona Virus, his press conferences now try to portray himself as a “Man of Action”.

    Some one must have told The Trumpet he was losing control over the situation by remaining silent or “Happy Tweeting” and now he wants to take center stage. It is all a part of the Con Man Act.


    1. Those early comments are just so typically Trump! Just bluster away in front of the TV cameras, pay no heed to what actual experts are trying to scream into your ear, everything’s going to turn out “fantastic,” “it’s incredible”!! And suddenly someone who can actually influence this guy reminded him of the upcoming election and he pretty well turned on a dime!! Emergency measures! “Free money” for every wage earner! I’ll be awaiting my check from the US Treasury, Donald. And man, could I use it!! Social Security benefit, the monthly income Trump’s knife is out for, is ALL that keeps me alive!


    2. Our Great Leader has always known it was a pandemic! He said so! And he’s a wartime president! Who deserves a 10 out of 10 in this crisis!

      Wow — that was a lot to swallow.


      1. Since Trump doesn’t sleep–a true Superman! or, perhaps popping stimulants all day and night?–he rewrites history daily. The folks at Orwell’s Ministry of Truth would be stunned at his speed!!


  7. I live in Washington state. Guidelines are being drawn up at the state level for doctors in terms of how triage should be used when things get really bad. Also today heard Ted Koppel on CBS Sunday Morning asking other doctors about it. We are facing a time when decisions will be made across a large population about who will live and who will die.

    My wife’s niece is a nurse. We and the rest of the family are gathering up our N95 and other masks to send to her to share with her colleagues.

    Who could ever believe we’d see this country after the trillions spent on defense and the billions on healthcare get to the point we’re rationing hospital beds and ventilators and searching for paper masks?

    The self-serving criminals in charge debate as if these are normal times, and the networks give Trump daily time to hold live campaign rallies with the so-called briefings on the virus.

    Outrage doesn’t even begin to describe how I feel.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Gov. Cuomo today (23 March) “ordered” hospitals to increase their patient care capacity 50 PERCENT!! Cuomo is being praised widely for his un-Trumpian leadership in this crisis but I fear he’s also detached from reality. Couple of weeks ago he gave advice to subway riders that proved he never rides those trains himself, and now he thinks hospitals have magic wands to wave and up their capacity 50% with the snap of someone’s fingers. The Javits Convention Center is to have 1000 hospital beds put in place, reportedly. That makes more sense, changing the use of an existing large space, than expecting hospitals to expand 50% overnight!


  8. Campaigning by way of C.V. look at the colossal leaps and bounds I’m doing through Hoops no less– for you as the Circus Ringmaster says to the paying crowd…:/ :o)


  9. “Triage” that’s a scary word I haven’t heard in a long time since Retiring as a Medic & Firefighter. We also decide at a Level 1 Emergency who lives, or dies due to severity of and other under-riding conditions who may receive first consideration in Life Saving measures administered! Scary times we’re at…


    1. Mainstream media are suggesting the number of cases in USA is still in the ballooning phase. The term “triage” is very much being bandied about. For the very elderly and already immune- or lung-compromised, this translates to: “You’ll be the first we let die.” That is the very harsh reality.


  10. Truly, this is a national emergency. And what is Congress doing to help ordinary people? Virtually nothing. The Senate’s “relief” package is relief for the rich and corporations and industries. I give just a tiny bit of credit to Democrats for resisting it, but of course both parties are deeply compromised.

    In this crisis, we are seeing the sheer awfulness of the religion of American capitalism. The ugliness is only going to worsen.

    Bernie knows the score:


    1. The GOP version of the emergency “relief package” must contain truly disgusting giveaways to the corporations for Schumer and Pelosi to resist it!! They certainly know Trump will use this delay to paint them as “the enemies of laid-off workers”! Meanwhile, Dear US Treasury: Personally, I could sure as hell use a check for $600…given that I’m too poor to qualify for a bigger one!!


  11. I did watch Boris Johnson on TV with an address to the UK. How refreshing to watch and listen to a leader who could speak coherently even if was a scripted speech. Johnson was a bit like The Trumpet in his denials about the severity of Corona in early days.

    It does in a way beg the question so to speak. My suspicion even with the Chinese trying to cover-up, and stonewall Corona’s severity after a certain point the medical community and “Intelligence” Agencies must have become aware of just how dangerous this virus is. So why the denials sooner or later Corona’s force would be felt??

    There was no indication it would burn itself out or that vast majority of population would be immune or suffer only a minor distress. The Trumpet’s denials are understandable, his arrogance could not conceive of challenge this big beyond his control.

    We have Congress who would have members being briefed on this. Where were they?? Why was their such silence??


    1. With each passing day, Bernie Sanders’s emphasis in final “debate” on how this crisis argues for a national health program looks wiser and wiser. BoJo’s UK, of course, has had its National Health for eons, only every time he and his fellow Tories get in office they try to take a wrecking bar to it!!


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