[Los Angeles, CA] The first part of the year is usually a busy time for me. Recovering from the holidays and starting new initiatives take focus to successfully execute. Even though I am retired I usually have a busy schedule and had committed to being part of the 2020 Census team. Training was to start in early March but in late January there was news about this flu-like disease spreading in Asia. Like a wildfire the disease spread internationally and people were warned to take precautions. By the time training started in Los Angeles on March 16th things appeared normal but news of the disease was escalating by the minute. Three days into training a pandemic was officially declared. Our group was immediately shut down and told to shelter in place and await further instructions.
Like many people I was not aware of Covid and while I knew I would need to be more cautious I was not too worried because of my overall health condition. We live in a family-oriented environment known as the “Harvard Compound.” We came together and mapped out a strategy in making sure we adhered to health protocols as well as developing a plan on how we could navigate with errands and other measures which required us to leave home.
To be vaccinated or not?
Once it became apparent a vaccine would be available, I never had any question on whether I would take it or not. For me, the data was clear and all I had to do was look at the number of deaths, which at that time was over 300,000 in the United States! As mentioned, being a person who treasures life there was never any question in getting vaccinated. It was more of when my group was eligible? As a person over the age of 65 my eligibility came around pretty quickly. I didn’t worry about any ancillary issues or discussions being bantered about regarding the legitimacy of the vaccine. It was very simple – “better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.” In early February 2021 I opted to get my vaccine at Dodger Stadium because it was defined as a mega-site plus it was only six miles from my residence. The process was very organized and from start to finish it took approximately 2 hours per dose.
Having the vaccine is not a cure-all but it gives you the peace of mind in protecting yourself. We still practice safety and limit unnecessary exposure, especially to those who are not vaccinated. Also, we have traveled internationally and even though we are vaccinated we had to do mandatory testing. Maybe we are just lucky or blessed but everyone in our family is vaccinated and we have not experienced any adverse effects.
That, in absolute terms, is not true. Class distinctions are present and expressed in a sometimes catastrophic way, under the coronavirus pandemic. Becoming the very basis of the conditions under which the individual is obliged to face the pandemic
It is true that anyone can get sick, in biological terms, but neither the way to get sick, nor the way to face the disease, is the same for all individuals. This is determined by the social conditions in which each one lives . A time when their class status is decisive.
Biologically speaking, anyone can acquire the virus, but certain circumstances play an important role in this, which are inextricably linked to class status.
This is the result of the contagion with the virus is quite determined by the living conditions in which people survive and those that have occurred, and capitalism had already predetermined them very strongly, before the pandemic arrived.
By the way, I am not referring to personal conditions, related to the suffering of certain chronic diseases, such as hypertension, diabetes, respiratory problems, heart disease, etc. But to those living conditions, which do not have to do directly with the disease as such.
These, pre-existing to the pandemic, are the following:
The monetary income received, determines, above all, the conditions in which one lives. The neighborhood, the quality of the house, the social and material environment and the type of environment and people around us.
The medical care you receive, even if it is free, can be better or worse, and this is decisive, because it contributes to some extent to the conditions, better or worse, in which each person faces the virus and a possible disease in general.
Diet and its quality, in general, is decisive, in the conditions with which each person faces any illness. If you are well fed, you have energies that are decisive for recovery.
Moving by car is not the same as traveling by public transport. The risks with which you must face a possible contagion differ greatly.
It is, then, that in general, the material life conditions in which the individual finds himself, are determining factors to overcome the possibility of acquiring the virus, or any disease.
Finally, the culture of the individual is also decisive in the face of the reality of the disease. Well, the individual conscience before the possibility of getting sick or facing the disease as such, are determined by the level of culture that the individual possesses. Cultural level that is determined, first of all, by social origin, access to education and living conditions.
All the situations mentioned are closely linked, it could be said that, determining, the conditions in which the individual can face the adversity of becoming ill.
All the aforementioned conditions are present in any company. We would say, the same in a society like that of Cuba, as in any other society.
In all known societies, until now, individuals differ in their living conditions, which is decisive when facing the disease.
The Coronavirus pandemic has served to make even more evident, substantial differences, how an individual copes with the disease within a society like that of Cuba and the rest, of the majority, of the existing societies in the world.
Being true that, biologically speaking, the virus makes no distinction of class, social group, race, cultural level, etc. Well, he attacks anyone who opposes him. Although the conditions in which each person must face such a situation, particularly the danger of becoming infected, differ, since such situations are influenced by the living conditions of each individual, already mentioned above.
However, the pandemic has also clearly shown that it unfolds with more or less aggressiveness, depending on the health policy followed by the countries that suffer from it. Becoming clear that in such circumstances the political will of governments has influenced, to face the pandemic. The following becoming evident:
Countries that, by prioritizing the economy, over health, such as the United States, have begun to suffer the pandemic, due to the lack of an efficient health policy, through contagion, neglect of early detection of the virus and the lack of material conditions for the care of the sick.
The pandemic has also clearly shown how the neo liberal policy followed in recent years has affected health budgets, which have been systematically lowered, resulting in the fact that, when the pandemic arrived, many countries showed that they lacked health policies, budgets and resources to face the situation.
The pandemic has also shown that only with international collaboration and solidarity is it possible to face it. But, the fierce competition that neoliberal policies have brought, the harsh trade confrontation, the military confrontations at the regional level, the policies of international sanctions, the territorial usurpations and the theft of oil resources, among others, have shaped an international, negative environment. for confronting the pandemic. Because such an environment, prevalent in international relations, is incompatible with the type of relations needed to face the pandemic.
In particular, the policy followed by the United States has not been more negative regarding the behavior of the President. According to the Washington Post of April 8, 2020, “on January 3, Trump had already received formal notification of the existence of the virus. Trump was also informed by the Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar, on January 18. But when asked publicly about the virus, on January 22, he said: we have it totally under control: he is a person who comes from China. ”
Trump, after being alerted to the virus, spoke at eight rallies and six times played Golf, as if he had nothing to worry about.
Trump began to speak of the “Chinese Virus”, unloading on this nation the responsibility for the pandemic. By characterizing it this way, Trump then forces us to argue, reacting to a racist projection of the “scapegoat” type. And it is that this is precisely what he is pursuing, because it allows him to divert our attention, from which the fundamental questions should be right now: Where are the missing beds? Where are the masks and tests? Where is the federal policy that should be followed to counter the pandemic? While Trump does so, in addition, achieving a sounding board within American society, among many people, racists, xenophobes and neoliberals, who follow him and who do not measure the consequences of his policies.
Not enough to do so, Trump even acts against the World Health Organization (WHO) by threatening and blackmailing it by lowering or suspending its financial contribution to it.
Trump , flatly refuses also to put aside the sanctions policy against countries like Cuba, Iran, Nicaragua, Venezuela, etc .; assuming at all times a arrogant attitude and not just genocidal, even mocking the predictions and recommendations of science. A policy that also denies collaboration with its historical allies , while cynically receiving and accepting solidarity aid that has come from China and Russia. Undoubtedly, it cannot be more cynical.
The United States cannot be consistent in its policy on pandemic response at the international level, because it is not at the domestic level. As a consequence of which, they have become the nation most affected by the new coronavirus.
The prevailing ideological values in American society also put citizens in a critical situation today, representing a danger to their own survival.
In the external order, the slogan of “America first”, and internally, individualism, consumerism, messianism and other very negative values that are its own, put the worst situation in American society, to achieve the degree of coherence policy that is needed to beat the pandemic. So all this becomes very difficult situations to overcome. Being Trump’s most optimistic projection, that the virus will kill between 100,000 and 240,000 citizens in the United States.
But, in addition, Golmann Sachs has calculated that social distancing measures have already caused a 34% contraction in GDP.
As if that were not enough, 33% of households, with incomes below $ 50,000 a year, have some unemployed member.
There are 16.7 million citizens without medical coverage.
“According to a study by the director of the Brookings Institute, the 50 counties hardest hit by the coronavirus, contribute 30% of employment and 36% of the country’s GDP.” Which is a serious problem to face in the perspective of a possible recovery.
It is insisted that Trump must classify Covid deaths, according to skin color, since serious studies have shown that the pandemic affects 70% of Afro-descendants in the United States.
Trump, in reality, did not foresee the polarization that has occurred with his policy, both in the world and within the United States, but has used it, dramatically increasing it. And that polarization is truly one of the greatest dangers facing American society.
The United States, and Trump in particular, did not learn the lessons of 2008-2009, when Wall Street was rescued, after the bankruptcy of Lehman Bross, at which time, as now, large masses of money were injected. However, no measures were then taken to prevent certain high-level sectors from benefiting to the detriment of the rescue of the real financial balance. Nor were there limits on investment banks on how to use the bailout. As a result, the current bailout is perceived as a new opportunity for companies to do business and make easy money.
The attitude of the Donald Trump administration puts the United States and the world in serious danger to overcome the coronavirus pandemic.
It is that, for the United States – that is, for the system – the first thing is money and then everything else. This has been clearly demonstrated in its policy of prioritizing financial issues and attention to the economy above all else. Hence his insistence that the economy in general should be recovering by April Easter, and the country as a whole, when until now the situation has only worsened, without any light being seen at the end of the tunnel. .
Significant resources and money are obviously necessary to overcome the pandemic, which in particular is proving very expensive, particularly within the United States, without being able to calculate even how much it will cost to overcome Covid-19. However, there is really no shortage of money or resources on the planet. What there is is an order of priorities that, demanded by the neoliberal policy followed, prioritizes profit, expenditure on armaments, waste, concentration in a few hands of resources and money, over satisfaction of basic needs. human. Reasons that explain very well how the pandemic has far exceeded the available hospitalization capacities and resources for medical care in general, within a rich country like the United States.
Meanwhile, Cuba, Venezuela, Russia and China, mainly, are standing out for their political behavior in the face of the pandemic, which earns the respect of the peoples of the world, showing great solidarity in this battle and also highlighting the character deeply. negative of US foreign policy, in the face of President Trump’s interest in taking advantage of the pandemic, with the aim of advancing his intentions to control the world.
Being a global problem, the pandemic requires a global approach, global collaboration and solutions of the same nature. Because it is required to share medical equipment, as well as not to impose controls that affect the export of medicines, food and other essential products.
However, the United States does not react with a policy in tune with the situation to which it has led its population and the planet as a whole. So his obvious abundance of resources and money, to help the world and help himself, means very little. This represents an incalculable danger, because it is not possible to suppose that the pandemic can be globally overcome, if the United States does not end up collaborating to overcome it.
So, until today, the possibility of overcoming the pandemic appears to us as something fraught with uncertainties, dangers and potentially negative predictions.
The experience that the pandemic brings to date is not positive for capitalism. He has highlighted the incapacities of a system, which, in the face of the danger that affects the world, seems not to be in a position to assume adequate policies, even though its own salvation may go its way.
All of which is the consequence of a model of accumulation, in which only the benefits of capital, large corporations, large banks and that of a single part of society are prioritized. A very minority. So the rest of humanity could disappear , without causing the slightest concern.
Only now, the Covid-19, has demonstrated that the economic principles and values of capitalism are potential causes of its possible destruction. Because, as never before, it has been demonstrated that the world is one and that its survival does not depend only on a single part of it, but on all those who have the true will to save it.
Which, dialectically, confirms that it is also true that the coronavirus does not make class distinctions, especially when considering how we should save ourselves from the pandemic. Because we all share the same spaceship.
Havana, April 14, 2020
This article was reprinted with permission from the author, Professor Esteban Dominguez Morales who is a distinguished author and lecturer. Professor Morales hails from Cuba and his perspective is sought worldwide on social and economic matters related to Cuba.
Today I join baseball fans around the globe to celebrate Jackie Robinson Day.
The event has turned into a special day for our family as this is the day we all suit up and head to Dodger stadium. Due to Covid-19 our celebration will be virtual as even though a pandemic is blazing across the land, paying homage to “Jack” must go on.
A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.
As a baseball historian I have mapped out a full schedule of activities to pay my respect. Here is a partial listing as well as some great links you may want to check-out if you too are inspired to salute #42.
The players, umpires, managers and coaches may not be on the field donning #42 but you can believe people from all walks of life will be wearing their Jackie Robinson gear as a sign of respect and connection to his legacy.
Ken Griffey, Jr. gives a great interview on how he was inspired to call baseball commissioner Bud Selig to request if he could wear #42 CLICK HERE
#42 was a special movie because it captured Robinson’s experience as he hit the Dodgers minor league play in preparation in being called up to the “big team.” It captures his stint in Daytona Beach, Fl which today has the Jackie Robinson stadium and is used by the Chicago Cubs minor league system. Additionally there is some great scenes from Sanford, FL (about 20 miles from Daytona Beach) which in 2012 happened to be the city Trayvon Martin was murdered by George Zimmerman.
The long awaited Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act known as CARES was signed into law yesterday, March 27th.
I have been bombarded with many questions as the ACT is very complex regarding what it does and what it doesn’t do. Unfortunately, because so many do not dig into the details there is lots of misinformation that do more harm than good resulting in people becoming frustrated or going around believing something that simply is not true.
One other point about the Act. Regardless if you subscribe to conspiracy theories, don’t believe in voting or engaging into the political process, COVID-19 has no boundaries nor does it discriminate or distinguish and that is yet another reason why voting is important because our lives are impacted by the legislative process, and those who do not participate are left on the sidelines with no voice.
Here is the text of the FULL Act
In the meantime, I would encourage you to click on the link below which was provided by my Congressperson Karen Bass who is a reliable leader that consistently keeps her constituents engaged and informed.