To the editor:
Six months after the first confirmed case of coronavirus in this country, it’s clear that the Trump Administration has abandoned the states to fend for themselves.
As the number of cases continues to rise, their latest proposal is to eliminate all funding for testing and contract tracing, thinking that the absence of data will help them sell the fairy tale that an economic recovery is just around the corner.
Yet, the facts say otherwise; the scale and the velocity of job losses are without precedent. Even the Great Depression took several years to reach the depths of economic pain we’re seeing today.
From all appearances, this administration and the Republican-controlled Senate are determined to use this epidemic to unleash disaster capitalism. After delaying taking up bills passed months ago by the House, will the Senate vote for additional funding to help state and local governments avert massive layoffs of public employees amid plunging tax revenues?
Will they vote to extend financial protections for the growing wave of weekly supplemental unemployment payments? Will they follow this administration’s lead, and vote to cut the payroll tax used to fund Social Security – calling it “… an incentive for companies to hire their workers back,” knowing there’s almost no chance of finding a new job?
Of more immediate interest is, how does all of this affect Louisa County’s ability to re-open our schools, and their capacity for keeping everybody safe throughout the school year?
Any delay or intransigence by the Senate, or this administration, to pass assistance packages that effectively address these and other issues will undermine the schools’ ability to stay safely open. No matter how well organized or proactive they are.
And for those proponents of notions like herd immunity and believers in “kids will get sick, and get over it” logic, here are a few factoids to consider.
There is little reliable information about the long-term effects of contracting this virus, for children or adults. A recent study indicates that children older than 10 have a rate of infections comparable to adults, and in states with high rates of infection like Florida, nearly one-third of students tested positive for the virus. Potentially spreading it to their families, relatives, teachers, support staff and anyone else they met.
Teachers all over the country are scrambling to prepare wills and advance directives before returning to the classrooms. School systems and divided school boards that failed to adequately plan for reopening will face the wrath of parents and voters throughout the school year and beyond.
Some states have followed the president’s “advice” to fully open, and exempted religious and private schools from complying with safety guidelines. They should expect a fatality rate between two and three percent among their students accompanied by an unknown number of parents, relatives and support staff.
If this is what “returning to normal” looks like, perhaps it’s time to reevaluate how we’re responding to this pandemic.