Coronavirus Update From New York City: April 16, 2020

Let me start by saying that I apologize for the delay in getting this post to you all! I had some evening work to do, and then there were some other things I needed to do after my work was done for the evening. Better late than never, I guess!

Even now, nobody in my family has gotten any coronavirus symptoms. I’ve said this before and I will say it again–I am really wondering whether we’ve had this before without realizing and we have immunity built up, or whether we had coronavirus and were asymptomatic, or what. All of us in my household at this point (myself, my brother, and my parents) personally know multiple people who’ve fallen ill from the coronavirus, and all of us know of people (friends of friends, at minimum) who have died from the coronavirus.

Speaking of deaths, it appears that deaths have flatlined, but they have flatlined at a horrible rate. Each day in the last week (maybe longer), New York’s Governor Cuomo has reported somewhere between 600 and 800 deaths per day. One death is a death too many, but 600-800 deaths per day is just an incomprehensible level of tragedy and grief. I sincerely hope that these numbers go down quickly, and go down soon. I also hope that whenever we do reopen my city, my state, my country, that we don’t do so in a way that results in our ending up with this level of loss of life again, because honestly, it’s too much loss.

On the topic of death (and sorry if this is too much talk of death for some people), I do want to address something that President Trump suggested: that the number of deaths due to the coronavirus in New York City is inflated.[1] The issue at-hand is that New York City recently reported an additional 3,700 or so “probable” deaths from the coronavirus (surging the number of deaths from the coronavirus in New York City past 10,000). These probable deaths are cases where the coronavirus or something similar to the coronavirus is listed on the death certificate as the cause of death, but the dead person never officially got tested for the coronavirus.[2] These are deaths that could probably be attributed to the coronavirus, hence probable deaths.

I know today wasn’t the most fun or hopeful of posts, but I hope my readers are doing okay, and that you all are staying healthy!


[1] https://www.silive.com/coronavirus/2020/04/trump-suggests-nyc-is-padding-coronavirus-death-count-with-presumed-cases.html

[2] https://www.politico.com/states/new-york/albany/story/2020/04/14/new-york-city-coronavirus-death-toll-jumps-by-3-700-after-uncounted-fatalities-are-added-1275931

Wealth Over Health: It’s Not Just a Trump Thing

A couple weeks ago, some people criticized United States President Donald Trump for trying to get the United States back to work, which would have defied what public health experts were (and still are) recommending about practices such as social isolation. Some friends and media have expressed shock at the president’s attitude toward the coronavirus, even dubbing it as a “wealth over health” type of attitude.

While I was angered and dismayed that Trump took such a dangerous attitude toward the coronavirus, I also recognize that attitudes similar to Trump’s, attitudes about prioritizing wealth and/or other results over health, is painfully common in society.

I’ve heard horror stories of people in numerous industries feeling that they have to sacrifice their health in favor of the bottom line. Some of my friends and acquaintances in the financial sector have told me stories of how they are expected to stay up late doing work, and then get up at ungodly hours of the morning to see how stock markets open in the Far East or in Europe. I have friends in government tell me about working 16-hour days, often at the sacrifice of self-care (both physically and mentally). I have friends in the nonprofit sector tell me about the work (as rewarding as it may be in certain cases) being so draining that it’s harmful to their physical and mental health. I’ve had friends in the business world who’ve encountered bosses who would work their employees until they are beyond ragged, all in the name of making every last dollar possible.

In summary, prioritizing wealth over health (whatever “wealth” may be, whether that’s money or certain other results) is not just a Trump thing. It’s an issue in many parts of American society, and Trump is only the most famous representative of the wealth-over-health attitude that exists in so many places.

So, if you think Trump’s attitude about the coronavirus was dangerous (I, for one, thought it was), don’t just get angry at Trump. Look at so many of the people around us, and as you look around, see whether some of those people have a Trump-like attitude about work.[1] You might be surprised—a Trump-like attitude about wealth over personal health is a lot more common than many of us realize.


[1] I’ve generally been lucky to have bosses who didn’t ask me to prioritize wealth over health. I am grateful for that. I know some who are not so lucky.

The Classism of the Trump Administration’s New Guidelines on Legal Immigrants

Last week, it was announced that the Trump administration would have a new regulation, called a “public charge rule,” where (from my understanding) someone applying for admission to the United States or someone who is looking for a change in residency status could be denied their request if they are deemed as likely to be a “public charge” in the future.[1] In other words, if the applicant is deemed to be likely to need some public benefit in the future, such as food stamps, then their application would be denied under the new guidelines.

Critics of the law have deemed this law anti-legal immigration, and those critics are right. Some critics have also deemed that this is anti-poor people, and they are right. However, there is one big word that must be used to describe this rule, a word I don’t seem to hear at all.

That word is classist. Yep, this policy is classist, and blatantly so.

Classism is “prejudice and discrimination based on class,”[2] according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Class is “a group sharing the same economic or social status.”[3] Therefore, a set of guidelines that punishes people for being poor is classist. A rule that keeps people from obtaining green cards or U.S. citizenship because they are deemed as poor enough that they are likely to need Medicaid in the future, which is what these guidelines do, is classist. A rule is classist when it is defended by a Trump administration official by saying, “Give me your tired and your poor who can stand on their own two feet and who will not become a public charge.”[4] The rule is classist, and the defense of the rule is also classist.

And yet, it seems like few people, Republicans, Democrats, or people outside the political system, have actually gone as far as to say that it is classist or even mention the word classism. As I’m writing this, I did a Google Search for “classism Trump administration” within the last 24 hours (I wrote this about 24 hours after the rule was announced) and only found five pages of search results. It’s as if classism itself is not really on the radars of that many people.

Given the fact that the Trump administration’s recent action, it’s time to put classism on the radar, learn about it, and call it out for what it is. Republican and Democratic leaders may be hesitant to call out classism, let alone call it out for what it is, but that should not keep us from being frank about classism and classist policies.


[1] You can find the original source of the rule here: https://s3.amazonaws.com/public-inspection.federalregister.gov/2019-17142.pdf. Alternatively, if you just want to read a summary of the rule, you can read the BBC’s summary here: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-49323610

[2] https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/classism

[3] https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/class

[4] https://www.npr.org/2019/08/13/750726795/immigration-chief-give-me-your-tired-your-poor-who-can-stand-on-their-own-2-feet

Why the Reversal on Cuts to the Special Olympics is Not Enough

A few weeks ago, the Trump administration, under the leadership of Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, proposed cutting funding for the Special Olympics. 

It created a huge uproar among Republicans and Democrats alike. Even allies of the president slammed the move.[1] Thankfully, activism worked, and Trump said that he will keep the Special Olympics funded.[2]

The temptation for some of us, since then, is to maybe do a victory lap because Special Olympics funding was kept. However, such cuts are not even close to enough reason for people to breathe a sigh of relief when it comes to this administration’s handling of issues with regard to people with disabilities. Here are a few reasons why I argue that:

  1. Various facets of special education funding have still been cut in the proposed Trump budget. Education Week, which is often considered to be an important source on the education system in America, argued that there was some misinformation regarding the proposed Trump budget, and mentioned the significant cuts of funding for special needs students—a $7 million cut (from $77 million to $70 million) for the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, a $13 million cut (from $134 million to $121 million) for Gallaudet University (a federally-chartered private university for the deaf and hard-of-hearing in Washington, DC), and a $5 million cut to the American Printing House for the Blind (from $30 million to $25 million), among others.[3] Education Week offered the consolation that these cuts are unlikely to pass with Democrats in control of the House of Representatives, but it’s still a terrifying thought for advocates of people with disabilities that such deep cuts are even up for consideration in the first place.
  2. The entire Affordable Care Act (ACA), including the provision on preexisting conditions, continues to be a target for repeal among some. Regardless of whether you like the ACA or not, the provision within the act not to allow the denial of health care coverage based on a preexisting condition was important for people who may’ve been denied because of a condition in the past. While I understand the arguments for and against the ACA, removing the provision on preexisting conditions would be nothing short of catastrophic for people who have a disability, and for other people who have any other kind of preexisting condition.
  3. There is a very serious chance that a Republican House, Republican Senate, and Republican president would weaken the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). While I will be the first to admit that the ADA hasn’t fixed everything (an issue I have previously written about on this blog), it has made a world of difference for so many people. And yet, members of the House passed a bill last year called the “ADA Education and Reform Act” on what was mostly a party-line vote. It was reform all right—reform that proposed making it harder for discrimination against people with disabilities to occur and easier for unscrupulous entities to get away with such discrimination.[4] Thankfully, the Senate didn’t pass it, but the support for this piece of legislation is a dangerous foreshadowing, if we’re not careful. 

So, should we be happy that there are no cuts to Special Olympics funding? Absolutely. But should we rest easy, given the other areas in which the lives of people with disabilities are going to potentially be harmed? Absolutely not.


[1] https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/436097-gop-senator-says-special-olympics-cuts-will-not-be-approved

[2] https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2019/03/28/president-trump-restoring-funding-special-olympics/3302983002/

[3] https://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/speced/2019/03/what_are_the_real_special_education_cuts.html

[4] To learn more about the ADA Education and Reform Act, the AARP has some information: https://www.aarp.org/politics-society/advocacy/info-2018/congress-weakens-ada-fd.html

Political Incorrectness Has Gone Mad…So Mad Some Use it to Justify Injustice

For a long time, I have been hesitant to write about the topic of political correctness (or political incorrectness). The reason for that, I think, is because large numbers of people in the United States hate political correctness with a passion—80% of us think that political correctness is a problem in America.[1] As a result, I was really afraid to go against the popular opinion on this issue.

However, I have changed my mind. It’s time to address political correctness/incorrectness, no matter how unpopular my stance may be.

Namely, we need to address the fact that political incorrectness has gone so mad that many people now use it to justify injustice.

The most recent example of this is the reactions to an ad made a couple of weeks ago by Gillette, called “The Best a Man Can Get?” I’m not going to spoil the ad, but basically the advertisement was a challenge to men (and particularly men with toxic behaviors) to be better than the bullying, catcalling, and harassing behaviors that have created the need for a #MeToo movement.

Some praised the ad. However, many people panned Gillette, and have even said that they will boycott Gillette, because they were “too politically correct.”

Let the above sentence sink in. An anti-bullying, anti-catcalling, anti-sexual harassment ad got criticized for being too politically correct.

By panning this ad as too politically correct, it shows political incorrectness as having gone so mad that an ad promoting basic standards of human decency (don’t bully, don’t catcall, don’t harass) has become controversial.

I wish I could say that the reaction to this Gillette ad was an anomaly, that we as human beings are usually good about treating others with decency. But no…there are other noteworthy examples when too many people have used the idea of political incorrectness to justify injustice. Here are two of the more well-known examples:

  1. There were many times during the 2016 Trump campaign when then-candidate Trump mocked others, ranging from a New York Times reporter for his disability to a former Miss America winner for her being overweight.[2] In the case of the Times reporter, he mocked someone for something that’s impossible to control (a disability), while with the Miss America winner he mocked the woman for something that’s difficult to control (weight). And yet many people (especially/mostly his supporters) defended him by arguing that he was just “speaking his mind” and that his opponents were being too politically correct. What this means was that many of us (or at least enough of us that he’s now president) let political incorrectness go so mad that we somehow justify bullying and fat-shaming.
  2. There was, is, and probably will continue to be a chorus of people who argue that the enforcement on what jokes are funny or hurtful/triggering is too politically correct. With racist “jokes,” rape “jokes,” stalking “jokes” (which I wrote about months ago), and other types of jokes that are potentially hurtful, responses can often range from “Can’t you take a joke?” to “You’re just being too politically correct.” What this means was that many of us let political incorrectness go so mad that we somehow justify making hurtful jokes.

Ultimately, while some may argue that political correctness has gone mad, I would argue that there are times that political incorrectness has gone mad. In fact, political incorrectness has gone so mad that, at times, some of us would rather do what’s politically incorrect than what’s right.


[1] https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2018/10/large-majorities-dislike-political-correctness/572581/

[2] There are so many examples of Trump’s political incorrectness that I could make a blog post out of it. I could talk about his telling a judge to go back to Mexico, or comments he has said about African Americans and Jews in the past, or any other number of things. For the sake of keeping this post from getting too long, I only cited two examples.