Things to think critically about concerning Covid-19 (Coronovirus).
YES, I’m Looking At You America. We Are Failing Preparations For This.
I am going to ask you to bear with me as I’ve been reading way too much about this (as a form of distraction from flashbacks mostly, but it’s helping me collate thoughts too). We, as a community, need to come together to help us get through this possible pandemic, but we need to be aware of the facts and the problems we are facing in our country. So let’s discuss them! (One major thing we really need to consider is mutual aid!).
Under each point I’ll have a mutual aid suggestion, and I’ll also include more suggestions under the conclusion.
” The coronavirus outbreak, which originated in Wuhan, China in 2019, is moving its way around the world, with a total of more than 114,000 detected cases around the world so far and 4,000 deaths. According to the latest CDC data, the U.S. now has more than 700+ confirmed cases across at least 34 states. There have been at least 26 deaths linked to the virus in the U.S.”
Note: the data above is based on what the countries are reporting. More cases are being reported daily, but due to the struggles with testing, America doesn’t have an accurate count.
1. Lack of reliable testing on a mass scale.
CDC is not giving out enough tests and have had draconian rules about who to test that relies on whether folks visited specific areas or not. This is causing major problems in that doctors aren’t getting enough tests or have been specifically told to not test if folks don’t meet the narrow criteria. So some doctors have their hands tied on if they can test at all; thus we don’t have accurate numbers of cases in America. This just doesn’t make sense viably, especially as it’s obviously already in America and spreading. There’s a lot of reports in America of people being denied the test and yet having all the symptoms days later.
We should be engaging in mass testing and have tests available for anyone who asks regardless. There cheap/free tests available by WHO and other organizations (CDC is currently using an expensive test that doesn’t work as efficiently, which is another problem. Not everyone’s insurance covers the test in America). Shortages of chemicals needed for the tests also exists.
**Mutual Aid Suggestion:** If you are a researcher, seek out tests made by other researchers or by WHO, and start sharing supplies. Support folks using alternative testing to get folks tested.
**Mutual Aid Suggestion:** If we can find a way to get more tests into the US, we can try sharing them wildly. Do mass tests such as how Korea did mass testing through drive-throughs. Those who have the spoons to research this — it can’t hurt to try.
2. Not everyone has a doctor.
CDC has been telling folks to just go to the doctor rather than call for a test. (They legit just had a press conference as of this past week). So those folks who don’t have a doctor? They may not go at all or they are forced to go to the emergency room.
For those that may not be able to go to the emergency room due to work, may instead go into work with possible symptoms because they have no paid sick days (if they don’t work they could end up homeless.) Many poor or lower income folks in America, including myself and others, are in danger of being homeless if we can’t work. I am lucky that Nationwide allows us to work from home, but a lot of companies do Not allow this in America.
For those that do go to Emergency Rooms, a major issue is that emergency rooms are easily overwhelmed, and some regions of America have little to no hospital coverage at all, so some folks have to travel long distances to even get checked out, and if they do go in to ask for a test, it’s highly likely they’ll be denied due to not fitting the narrow criteria I described in point 1.
**Mutual Aid Suggestion:** Hospital chaplains can assist people in need while they are in the hospital, and many are also trained advocates. Also, be a patient advocate for trans individuals particularly as well as other marginalized populations to help them get into hospitals to receive care and to have them be treated with dignity. See here for more information: https://www.nojusticenopride.org/covid19
3. No vaccine exists for this virus at the moment, and the spread of the disease seems to be exponential if we look at the raw data.
No, this disease is NOT like the flu. We also don’t have accurate numbers on death rates. There’s a lot of people who are still sick as of today, so we don’t know if they will survive or not. Very few areas have high levels of people recovering from Covid-19. So again, we need more data to be accurate on death rates, so anyone claiming a low death rate right now? That data is based on small sample sizes and is conflated with large numbers of people who still have Covid-19 (so although they haven’t died, they aren’t yet recovered so one can’t really say whether they will survive or not until they do, yet many of the death-rate-analysis have been including these people, which conflates the data and adds to its inaccuracy). Only more time and analysis will give us better data on death rates for this. This isn’t to alarm or cause panic — that’s just the nature of data. This article here tries to do just that: What is your risk of dying from Corvid-19?
Yes, the elderly and children and immune-compromised are at highest risk. But Anyone Can Be A Carrier. It’s why knowledge experts such as scientists and medical professionals are emphasizing crucial hygiene habits and other necessary procedures for pandemics. One can accidentally become a carrier of this coronavirus (Covid-19) through exposure and may not exhibit symptoms. We want to limit the spread and/or deaths, so folks being aware of what to do if exposed is crucial, even if they are at low risk.
Next major problem? Homeless people don’t have places to go that are safe for them in case they are exposed. In fact, many homeless shelters don’t practice particularly good hygiene, and can be toxic places for LGBTQIA folks (who are at a higher risk of being homeless). Many folks forget about the homeless (I have been homeless in my life so I’ll never stop yelling about this), but they are at a high risk of being exposed and getting sick, and many have no way to really care for themselves or self-quarantine. What is America doing about this issue? Very little — most work to aid the homeless is due to local groups that are underfunded. We could fund shelter for all people and end homelessness, but instead America funds incredibly inhumane policies to demonize the homeless.
Even as I point out this issue about homeless, I want to drive home the important point that we should never assume the homeless are spreading this disease either — that’s an incredibly harmful assumption that can cost them their lives. Homeless people are often exposed to the disease by shelters that don’t practice good hygiene, where the support staff might be carriers and thus accidentally passing it on to homeless people who don’t have the resources to properly engage in good hygiene. We should be supplying resources to aid this population, but instead they are largely forgotten or demonized.
**For Mutual Aid Assistance:** Homeless shelters don’t have enough hygiene supplies. Donate money to help them purchase supplies, or disinfect hygiene supplies and donate those to homeless shelters. Look into how your organization could assist with temporary shelter especially when homeless shelters are full.
3. This brings me to point three, how do we limit the spread?
Yes, some people are being a trifle ridiculous in the stocking up on items. (You really don’t need to buy out all the toilet paper, honest). There is no need to rush to the stores to buy 18719789 million things. What does this do? It causes a shortage on essential medical items, and what is happening in America right now? Hand-sanitizers are becoming scarce, so who gets to make those for you all? Inmates, who are paid less than 65 cents an hour, working as slaves (see New York right now, those inmates making hand-sanitizer for y’all to stock up on? Most of them aren’t allowed to even HAVE hand-sanitizer because it has alcohol in it. Most don’t have easy access to hygiene supplies. They shouldn’t be working in slavery conditions to begin with, but that’s America for you.) The shortage can cause harm to folks who really need those supplies.
**Mutual Aid Suggestion:** Immune-compromised and/or disabled folks who are chronically ill often need medical supplies, but we’re in a shortage. Folks could work to get supplies to those that need them. Again building mutual aid networks — one can drop-ship supplies, or bring them to the person in need by knocking and leaving it at their door thus still avoiding exposure. See this twitter thread for how to help: https://twitter.com/itswalela/status/1237840338464595968
Folks who are at high risk deserve to live too. Except many of them — the immune-compromised especially — rely on certain medical supplies, but people are buying out those medical supplies to “stock up” thus making it harder for those in most need to access it. If you are one of these people that has a lot of extra supplies, share it with those who need it the most. It’s likely you really only need 1 to 3 bottles at most of hand-sanitizers for use outside of home or in areas where there is no bathroom — soap is much better for you to use if you can access it regularly.
This article from Black Youth Project discusses how we live in a culture of disaster capitalism, where places like Flint, who had turned off water to folks who cannot pay, are now turning the water back on (something they could have done ages ago). The article is to get folks thinking about how we can push for those in power to offer relief directly to us citizens — relief from rent, student loans, mortgage, etc. How we can push for change: http://blackyouthproject.com/crisis-makes-clear-who-can-afford-to-survive-and-who-cannot/
What else can we do right now?
Create a list and a plan for if quarantine is called or you decide (or your doctor decides) self-quarantine is important to do (due to possible exposure). Then buy supplies for that (p.s. rely on soap more than hand-sanitizers for quarantine since you won’t need to go out under quarantine). It can be helpful to make sure you have access to your meds enough for a mouth or two, clean water, easy-to-make-foods that can be easily stored for long periods, disinfecting supplies, soap. Buy in moderation — do not overstock because other people need supplies as well.
Also, practice good hygiene by:
- not touching your face
- washing your hands for more than 20 seconds using soap
- use hand-sanitizers if you are out and about (use soap at home or in bathrooms)
- clean your phones if you touch them with disinfectant
- practice social distancing in large crowds or public transportation
- all restrooms should be made available to the public regardless of what company owns it. Does your cafe have a bathroom? Let anyone use it. We want more folks washing hands, seriously.
- use hand towels or napkins or paper towels to touch bathroom door handles. Do not use your own hand (as you’ll just have to wash it again)
- wash hand towels often
- Disinfecting common surfaces with Lysol or some sort of cleaner that is effective at killing viruses and do this regularly, especially in areas that have heavy traffic
- wear a facemask if you have a cough, etc. Specifically N95. Don’t use a loose-fitting mask. Try for one that fits snugly over nose and mouth.
- self-quarantine if you are sick or if you are exposed or if doctor advises it
There are ways to prepare for a self-quarantine that doesn’t put others at risk, and we really should be talking about how to do that effectively if folks are exposed. There may be people in your community that may need assistance in case of self-quarantine or accessing resources — if you are able to do so, consider volunteering to assist people in need. Practice mutual aid.
**Mutual Aid Suggestion:** Work with community members and put pressure on state and local governments to provide rent/mortgage, utility, and loan payment relief. Push for food deliveries for folks who are at-risk of food scarcity. This can be done virtually just as much as it can be done while practicing social distancing.
**Mutual Aid Suggestion:** Make it easier for delivery drivers to drop off packages and still maintain social distancing protocol. Create an easy to drop off area (especially for your organization). Do not hold the device for signing for the package — let the delivery person do that, and carefully sign without touching it. Offer disinfectant supplies or gloves for the delivery person.
**Mutual Aid Suggestion:** Donate money to organizations that deliver food or supplies to people in need. (This can be places like United Way or local organizations in your town). Call them to ask what they need and the best way to support efforts to assist communities. Churches can also be good places to ask in what ways they are assisting the community and how you can help in the efforts. This resource list has Seattle, WA specific resources but also nationwide resources. In Central Iowa, 211 is the number to call for resources, and the staff has up to date information. Check locally for the number to call or if there is a resource list being maintained by local organizations.
Conclusion and community care in pandemic ideas:
This post isn’t to cause panic, but for people to think critically on safe ways to handle the news and practice hygiene.
I personally don’t believe America is taking this seriously enough. We should be doing mass testing regardless of whether people visited the countries with the highest sick. We should be testing anyone who asks to be tested period. This will help us determine who needs quarantined and help us prepare resources so folks can survive quarantine without it harming them long-term. These tests should be free (they aren’t right now). Is there a way we as a community can get access to international tests to try to go about testing ourselves in stead of relying on the CDC and their not-well-thought-out-methods?
We also need Paid Sick Leave for folks, so if they have to self-quarantine, they don’t lose their job and housing or are forced to work and put themselves and the rest of the populace at risk. If there are people in your community that are at risk but cannot afford to not go to work, then maybe we as a community need to find ways to assist each other in case we need to engage in quarantine. Maybe we can work on community plans for such situations?
So a challenge: How can we as a community come together for those in most need? Especially in terms of rent and food? In what ways can we practice mutual aid to assist each other through this? If we pool our local resources, we can accomplish a lot, but we need to be willing to have these conversations.
**Mutual Aid Suggestion:** Seek out ways to assist with rent and/or utilities relief — especially if folks fall sick enough that they can’t work. If there are organizations that can help, share this information particularly to those most at risk in lower income communities. If you can donate to these causes, do it.
**Mutual Aid Suggestion:** Often kids rely on school lunches as their big meal of the day. If you have excess food supplies or can easily obtain them, who not donate food to those that need it? Especially for poor families that live in food deserts or work long hours
We need well-funded schools and higher education colleges/universities that have better accommodations for learning from home. Going to online learning requires crucial infrastructure and resources that, to be honest, America does not currently have. Many schools are underfunded. If schools were well-funded, this infrastructure would already exist, but it sadly doesn’t which is a problem as well. If you have knowledge in this area, it could be helpful to offer it to organizations that do this type of work.
**Mutual Aid Suggestion:** Since schools may be closing, ask schools if they can provide bagged lunches for kids to receive. Some schools are doing this around the country to help kids who are in food scarce areas. Also, there is a resource document that has a list of organizations/companies that are providing free subscription services for students: here.
There is also the issue of colleges closing dorms, which can put students who do not have a safe home life in jeopardy with nowhere to go (this can include students from abusive families, LGBTQIA students, etc), and so they may need temporary housing, especially if a quarantine is needed. Also younger students who may get their biggest meal at schools due to family not having enough money for food — we should be sharing supplies to assist one another. (Even if we are just drop-shipping it to their door). Again, mutual aid is important!
**Mutual Aid Suggestion:** For those that have spoons, research temporary housing for students who cannot go home if their college dorms are closed. Offer that resource and help get the word out to those students. (What colleges should be doing instead is engaging in quarantine in the dorms, and doing drop-ship of supplies to the students who need to stay on campus due to not having anywhere to go. There are ways to give folks supplies without being in direct contact with them.)
I suspect this particular coronavirus is spreading faster than folks care to admit in America. However, this should not be a cause for panic.
We need to think critically and look at the facts (not the propaganda nonsense the American government is currently sprouting), and we need to practice hygiene in a way to avoid us becoming carriers and accidentally passing it to others.
So let’s be smart about this. Let’s talk about ways we, as a community, can work together to handle this possible pandemic in a healthy way.
Share your thoughts or tips. Thanks.