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The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Covid-19 crisis hits America

by John Wojcik

THE FIGURES as of Tuesday morning are horrific. More than 173,000 Americans are infected – well over twice the number infected in China, which has four times as many people as the USA. More than 3,400 are dead – also more than in China, where the pandemic started. The USA’s top health officials say that if everything goes “perfectly” we will “only” have up to 200,000 dead. If things don’t go perfectly, it could be in the millions, they say.

Already, New York’s hospitals are loading the bodies into refrigerated trucks parked outside because their morgues are full. And when it comes to testing, or rather the lack of it, the figures are beyond belief. The USA is far behind every single other developed country in the world when it comes to the percentage of people tested.

Other than the daily public relations show performed on national television by Donald Trump, there is no co-ordinated national response. Trump has not fully invoked the Defence Production Act that allows the government to order private companies to produce what is needed. There is no national stay-at-home order, despite the fact that the USA is now the hardest-hit nation on the planet.

The lack of a co-ordinated national response has resulted in a complicated patchwork of responses on the state, city, town and county levels all across the country – and many of those are inadequate.

Florida has the sixth-largest number of cases in the country and only this morning did the Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, issue a stay-at-home order and that was only for the counties around Miami, on the southern tip of the state.

In 24 hours, Missouri had a 600 per cent increase in infections, yet the Republican governor there refuses to institute a state-wide stay-at-home order. The state’s nurses have pleaded with him to do so, begging him to act now to save their lives. So far, their pleas have fallen on deaf ears.

On Monday, Trump said in his daily show that he had met with the nation’s governors earlier in the day and that they were “happy” with “what we have done”. Someone taped the meeting however, and it was played on national television last night. It presented a very different picture than the one painted by Trump in his public remarks.

On the tape, Montana’s Governor Bullock was heard pleading with Trump for tests and telling him that as of today his state would be unable to test anyone. Bullock was answering a question from Dr Anthony Fauci about how he was assessing the state of the pandemic in different parts of Montana. Despite having just heard what the problem is in Montana, Trump responded by saying that he hadn’t heard what he just had heard – any complaints about testing. He claimed to have not heard about any problems with testing or lack of test kits “for weeks”.

Governors, hospitals, mayors and more have, of course, been complaining daily for a month or more about lack of testing. When tests have arrived, they are often missing crucial parts such as the swabs the professionals need to administer them. Governor Ralph Northam of Virginia is saying today that he has the same problem that Bullock has in Montana.

Trump reiterated to the governors that the federal government’s role is to “back up and assist” them but that it is the states themselves which are responsible for fighting the virus.

Later in the day, he essentially admitted to the absurdity of his idea last week to pack the churches on Easter. But rather than switching gears and mounting a federal response, he instead lowered the bar for the federal government, essentially declaring that if “only” 200,000 died, the federal government could declare “victory”.

Trump’s failure to nationalise the response to the crisis amounts to nothing less than sabotage of the war against this disease.

People are dying because of the lack of a national supply chain. The failure of the government to set up a national supply chain and the failure to invoke the Defence Production Act naturally leads to the question: Is it incompetence or is it intentional?

On the ground, the results are the same, regardless of the answer to that question. More are dying.

The evidence continues to pile up, however, that it is an intentional policy the Trump administration is pushing -- a policy that says the role of the federal government in this crisis should be kept to a bare minimum. It’s a right-wing policy that, along with the virus itself, is killing people.

People’s World (USA) edited