Copyright © 2016 - 2020, The Troy Press
Copyright © 2016 - 2020, The Troy Press

The Covid-19 Blame-Game; Don't Be Fooled

Below, blaming China is addressed, but first, if Republicans want to blame Cuomo and Blasio for their failure to issue shelter-in-place orders in New York City at an earlier date, instead advising New Yorkers to go out on the town, or if Democrats want to blame Trump for calling the Covid-19 pandemic another "impeachment hoax", well, fine. It's basically a circular firing squad, and the general public is probably smart enough to see these tactics for what they are - blame-diversion efforts by equally guilty parties.

What neither the corporate Democrats nor their Republican partners nor the corporate media want to get into is how and why the for-profit healthcare system failed so abjectly, turning the United States into the global death center of the pandemic.

That gets us into the offshoring of medical supply manufacturing, the decimation of public health infrastructure by successive Democratic and Republican administrations, the lack of clinics in poor neighborhoods, the lack of epidemiological specialists on hospital staff, basically the kind of failures you'd expect from a neoliberal capitalist health care system focused on delivering profits to shareholders instead of on protecting the health and well-being of the general public.

That said, if Trump and Cuomo had responded like California's Gavin Newsom and London Breed, the mayor of San Francisco, i.e. by declaring a state of emergency on Feb 26, a good portion of this could have been avoided:

S.F. Chronicle on San Francisco Mayor London Breed's State of Emergency Declaration.

That was followed by stricter measures two weeks later that were expanded statewide by Gavin Newsom:

CNBC on San Francisco stay inside order.

KQED on Gavin Newsom's shelter-in-place order

Those measures were fairly effective, although problems remain. In contrast we had Trump's Fox News saying this on March 9: "HANNITY #1: Alright, so that's the point. I mean, this scaring the living hell out of people -- I see it, again, as like, oh, let's bludgeon Trump with this new hoax." Similarly, on the Democratic side, New York Mayor Blasio tweeting "get out on the town despite coronavirus" on March 3.

So, yes, "mistakes were made" - but let's be clear, the institutional failings go very deep indeed. California did recognize the problem but even then, there was no capacity available to immediately ramp up testing due to the public health infrastructure beings so weak, there were widespread shortages of PPE and swab kits for testing, and those supply shortages are still hampering efforts at reopening economic activity:

KTLA on restoration problems.

This gets us right back to neoliberal trade police and the failures of offshore supply lines, which is a taboo subject at the Intercept, isn't it? This is an area where Trump and Obama have been in almost perfect agreement (Trump having hired Obama's TPP team to work on his USMCA, for example), and both are equally guilty. So, why the absolute refusal to tackle anything related to neoliberal trade policy (i.e., the offshoring of medical supply chains to China, India, Mexico, etc.), which has severely impacted the ability of hospitals to provide personal protective equipment to their staff, and is also involved in the widespread national failure to ramp up testing in time? I thought the brand was 'adversarial investigative journalism'?

Now, to China...

Blaming China is nonsense; the risk of this kind of outbreak has been recognized for years by epidemiologists and SARS, H1N1 and MERS were all near misses, and yet the USA failed to get ready for it, not under GW Bush, not under Obama, and not under Trump. See for example this recent report (cue the conspiracy theories but come on):

September 18, 2019
Preparedness for a High-Impact Respiratory Pathogen Pandemic (PDF)
The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security was commissioned by the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board (GPMB) to assess the state of readiness for a high-impact respiratory pathogen pandemic—that is, pathogens with the potential for widespread transmission and high observed mortality. If a high-impact respiratory pathogen were to emerge, either naturally or as the result of accidental or deliberate release, it would likely have significant public health, economic, social, and political consequences.

Chinese culpability seems to be limited to local officials trying to suppress doctors from spreading warnings and alerting their colleagues, which is pretty bad - here's BusinessInsider on that:

"A Wuhan doctor said she wishes she could rewind the clock to December when she first sounded the alarm about a new pneumonia-like virus — only to back away after being reprimanded by Chinese officials."

Yes, the authoritarian Chinese state is at fault there - although their subsequent efforts to crush the spread of the virus have been fairly successful, if draconian. All in all it points to the benefits of freedom of speech and the right to protest government authority, that’s for sure.

HOWEVER, the fact that America’s for-profit health care system and corrupt government officials have made the United States the global death center of the pandemic (at the moment) - no, you can’t blame China for that. Look at how Iceland, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and other countries responded successfully - then look at our Third World-level public health care infrastructure, at our neoliberal capitalist ideology, at our outsourcing of medical and drug supply lines to China and India, and at our corrupt Wall Street - serving politicians. That’s where the blame lies for the exploding infection and death rates.