Los Angeles, California is now considered one of the worst COVID-19 hotspots in the country. Mayor of LA Eric Garcetti estimated with concern that there was one new infection every six seconds and one death every 10 minutes from the virus. Hospitals are refusing ambulances and LA County health facilities are literally lack of oxygen. But last spring, when the pandemic was first declared, the city was one of the first to adopt mandatory mask wearing and benefited from California enactment of the first statewide shelter-in-place ordinance that helped curb the virus’s worst spread. So, what happened?
There is a possibility that the fatal outbreak of cases may be the result of a new, more transmissible strain of the virus circulating in the area. But more likely, the spread is the result of the message authorities are sending of a premature return to normalcy. While social media platforms are filled with angry Angelenos who blame and shame themselves for brazenly spending vacations and flouting social distancing guidelines, in truth, the explosion of infections is the price those responsible are paying for. willing to pay to guarantee the protection of corporate profits.
California last shelter-in-place order is quite different from his first. While in March 2020, the state ordered everyone non-essential businesses To remain closed, in early December, at the height of the holiday shopping season, all retail stores were allowed to remain open, even though outdoor parks were closed. Californians were so outraged by the obvious double standards that officials gave in and reopened parks—Instead of closing retail stores.
As might be expected, infections in shopping malls skyrocketed as shoppers, eager to save Christmas, elbows rubbed with each other in their rush to make their vacation wishes come true. After all, the authorities had approved such actions, so they must be safe, right? Rather than enact strict rules to prevent such a reunion, some Californians, rightly terrified of the disease, have simply blamed buyers. Even LA County Director of Health Services Dr. Christina Ghaly told the Los Angeles Times, “If you’re still shopping for loved ones this holiday season… then you’re missing out on the gravity of the situation. that affects LA County hospitals. . Although they may seem harmless, these actions are extremely risky. Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer told Angelenos, “stay home,” but declined to consider shutting down non-essential businesses.
In other words, authorities kept retail stores open, but then berated residents for shopping. There are two ways to interpret the confused message. If the authorities allow all businesses to remain open, surely it must be prudent to patronize them. Or, authorities are motivated by financial issues, not public health, so surely they cannot be trusted.
Hollywood is another exercise in contradictions. While new movies and TV shows weren’t considered essential last year, production has now resumed. Why? Quite simply, “there is too much money at stakeIn the words of a television producer. The state and local authorities have the power to stop production in the interest of public health, but rather than exercising this power, they asked companies to volunteer to stop their plans. Now that the virus has spread so far and caused so much suffering and death, even Hollywood has decided it might not be a good idea to continue filming. But is it too late?
American society is governed by the right of corporations to make money above all else. And while for a few months in 2020, it seemed like we had prioritized public health and welfare by shutting down large swathes of the country and passing by. CARES Law, it did not last. The fact that authorities have chosen to sacrifice human lives on the altar of corporate profits is lost in the horrific spike in cases and the growing death toll. According to their logic, if anyone is to blame, it is the individual American who caught the disease simply by making the wrong choices. It’s the American way.
Take John mackey, CEO of Whole Foods, an elite grocery chain popular with wealthy and health-conscious Americans. According to Mackey, there is no need for health services. “The best solution is to change the way people eat, their lifestyle, their lifestyle and their diet,” he said in a recent interview. He added: “There is no reason why people cannot be healthy and have a longer lifespan. A bunch of drugs won’t solve the problem. Tell that to the apparently healthy people among us who contract dangerous diseases like cancer and need the type of chemotherapy that does just that – help “solve the problem” of cancer.
Mackey’s logic is consistent with that of the new pro-business California shelter-in-place orders, which effectively send the message that if you catch COVID-19, it’s your fault, not the indoor mall’s fault. who was allowed to remain open.
Businesses have to keep operating if they want to make money. But big companies have accumulated so much wealth thanks to Republican Party tax gifts that those working in non-essential industries can surely survive for a year or two while remaining closed and dipping into their assets without threatening their bottom line.
The situation is of course quite different for small businesses that operate on razor thin margins and that easily go bankrupt after just a few months of forced shutdowns. But the richest government in the world can certainly pay such businesses to stay closed so they can safely reopen once the danger has passed. European nations have paid workers staying at home – an obvious solution to curbing the virus.
A NBC News The article compared the United States’ response to that of other countries, arguing that “unlike Western Europe and Canada, the United States is asking citizens to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic without any additional financial cushion from the government. An epidemiologist told the outlet: “I know several industries have pressured governors to stay open because the shutdown means a huge loss of income for business owners and employees, even though it would be. the best thing to do from a public health perspective. ”
Indeed, California has allowed businesses to remain open in part due to a dangerous drop in tax revenues and a lack of funding from the federal government to states to offset losses from the pandemic. Once again, the authorities have chosen the “sink or swim” approach for business and public health. Why pay people to stay home and stay safe when they can just risk their lives for profit? After all, it’s the same logic that drove the relentless shredding of the pre-pandemic safety net programs for Americans in economic difficulty.
There is a lot of harm to the hand, blame and shame on the individual, and general confusion as to why COVID-19 continues to kill so many people. But to understand the real reason for the ever-increasing death toll, look no further than America’s way of leaving citizens to fend for themselves in the service of capitalism.
Authors biography: Sonali Kolhatkar is the founder, host and executive producer of “Rising Up With Sonali”, a television and radio show broadcast on Free Speech TV and Pacifica.
This article was produced by Economy for all, a project of the Independent Media Institute.