Saturday, March 21, 2020

Do It Ourselves

The wealthy and the powerful are counting on us not paying attention. They’re looking out for their own: the hedge funders, the landlords, the pharmaceutical billionaires. They’re counting on our attention being elsewhere. A lesson of this virus is that it shows us who and what gets protected. It’s the wealthy and powerful.

Testing for COVID-19 is just one part of the class story unfolding. The rich and famous receive access to a vital and very limited resource, one which should be allocated on the basis of priority, not privilege. Of course they should be tested, but because we all  get tested, but that is not the world we live in. Instead, there has been failure to test everyday citizens, including medical workers, those in at-risk groups, and those experiencing serious, even hospitalisation-requiring symptoms. Medical workers are not being tested, and each day brings new stories of sick, vulnerable people who are refused testing. Why are doctors and nurses not being routinely tested, or given the right protective equipment? Strategically allocating tests would save countless lives; allocating tests on the basis of wealth and access will mean lives lost across every socio-economic demographic. We know that testing is a key to derailing this virus’s path of destruction. The communities that get tested fast and early will be far better protected. Meanwhile, we wait.

 Everyday workers are being laid off en masse while the wealthiest industries begin batting their eyelashes at trillion-dollar bailouts. Researchers race to develop treatments and a vaccine for Covid-19 while billion-dollar firms fight to monetize their findings in advance. Low-paid “key workers” – nurses, orderlies, delivery drivers, teachers, grocery store attendants and social caregivers – put themselves at greater risk of contracting the virus in order to keep society running, while generously paid employees in less-essential industries work from home. Mortgage holidays are set in place without a mention of rent relief. Contract workers, gig economy workers and service industry workers face complete financial devastation while parasite financiers play the market like Monopoly. They are also counting on our anger losing steam by the time this international nightmare ends.

Yet people we’re learning to look after ourselves. Community aid organisations proliferate, offering local, grassroot support to those in isolation. Nurses, orderlies and doctors charge ahead, fighting for testing, fighting for patients’ lives. We do what we can to check in on those we care for, and to look out for those we do not know. 

adapted from here

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