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USA: how a country without public health cannot face Covid-19

USA: how a country without public health cannot face Covid-19

What is happening in the country to the north of the American continent has to teach us many things, the importance of having a good public health system is one of those that became more evident with the new coronavirus, so we should analyze the progress of Covid-19 there.

As the virus arrived in the United States a little earlier, we can draw some lessons about the progress of the pandemic in this country to avoid the same scenario here. According to Worldometers, the first registration of Covid-19 in the US took place on January 20.

In the United States, the population continues to pay for a health plan, acquire debt with treatment, or remain on their own devices without medical attention.

Social inequality

The pandemic caused by the new coronavirus has made it increasingly clear that social inequality deepens the spread of the virus. The social and economic divisions are more marked and the most vulnerable are the main victims of Covid-19: both by contracting the virus and by dying.

Public health expert Nicole A. Errett told The New York Times that:

"Pre-existing social vulnerabilities only get worse after a disaster, and this is a perfect example of that."

It is worth mentioning that a considerable portion of the American population, especially the low-income population, is eating very poorly, creating an image of pre-existing diseases, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, that put them at higher risk of contracting the new crown.

The vision that many have of the United States as a wonderland, as if it were the image and likeness of Disney or Hollywood movies, dropped a curtain on the real life of their society, which daily faces the harshness of a neoliberal economics, which denies the population the distribution of wealth in basic public services, such as education and health.

Basically, people don't get checkups simply because they can't pay the bill at the end of the exam. The bill, which comes home, is too high for a low-income worker. As the NYT highlights:

"Preventive care and health education have steadily leaned toward the educated and the wealthiest."

The upshot of this is that the poorest people are about 10% more likely to develop a chronic poor health condition, which can make the new coronavirus up to 10 times more deadly for them, according to the Centers for Control and China Prevention. of diseases.

While Sars-Cov-2 is sweeping the United States and experts recommend that people avoid crowds, low-income people can't follow these tips. Workers who cannot carry out their activities remotely and those who do not have paid days off (in the United States, they work “by the hour”) are more likely to not receive health insurance or receive insufficient treatment, reports the magazine. Weather

According to a 2019 Federal Reserve study, 40% of Americans missed $ 400 to cover an emergency. In the absence of resources to prepare for and protect against Covid-19, many of them face an increased risk of contracting and spreading the virus.

Poor old men

It's not just low-income workers who are at the forefront of the pandemic in the United States. The elderly, who are the most vulnerable to disease, are also among the poorest. The median income of retired adults 65 and older in 2017 was less than $ 20,000, according to data from the Pension Rights Center, a national nonprofit organization.

In Brooklyn, New York, several bodies appeared piled up in the streets, drawing attention to the spread of the pandemic in the worst-affected city in the United States. According to the Daily News, the videos, which went viral on social media across the country, show healthcare professionals using a forklift to transport the bodies of the victims to a truck. In one of the videos, a man in front of the Brooklyn Hospital Center says:

"This is real, this is real, this is right here in Brooklyn."

The Brooklyn Hospital Center has sent a note from the Daily News stating that it is "following the protocols established by the public health authorities" and are using the refrigerated truck to function as "an auxiliary morgue." The measure is necessary to "accommodate the tragic increase in deaths, putting pressure on the entire care system, from hospitals to funeral homes," as reported by IstoÉ.

There is no public health system

The director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, was categorical:

"The system is not working, it is not really focused on what we need now ... It is failing, let's face it."

This speech reveals a sad and desperate truth: There is no real public health system in the United States.

In his column for The Guardian, Robert Reich, former United States Secretary of Labor and professor of public policy at the University of California, clarified that the word "public" in the United States means a sum total of individual needs, not the good. common.

This means that instead of a public health system, a private for-profit system is available to those who have a stable job that allows them to pay for it. Individual need is met, not the needs of the general public.

Medical assistance in the US is provided by private companies that have no obligation with a reserve capacity, such as, for example, guaranteeing more infected in the country, the treatment of the new coronavirus.

According to Reich, about 30% of American workers do not receive health insurance from their employers, including 70% of low-income workers who earn less than $ 10.49 per hour. Large numbers of freelancers also cannot afford insurance.

To make matters worse, most of the unemployed people in the country are not qualified to receive unemployment insurance because they have not worked long enough in a stable job or the agreement negotiated with the employer does not provide for this.

The summary of this story is that the richest country in the world does not protect the general public. Right now, the United States, which is the country hardest hit by the pandemic, is struggling to cope, in part, because it doesn't have a public health system.

Support to the population

However, Democrats and Republicans reached a consensus for the government to support the population. Congressmen approved a $ 2.2 billion package to be distributed to individuals and businesses, the largest financial aid in the nation's history.

The Covid-19 outbreak has exposed the fragility of the US social safety net and the need for the richest country in the world to distribute its wealth to its own population.

By Gisella Meneguelli. Article in Portuguese

Video: The. has lost 200,000 people to COVID-19. How did this happen? (October 2020).