Coronavirus cases are increasing at drastic rates in some states. Some people are alarmed with this rise in coronavirus cases, while other people (including some elected officials) downplay the increase in cases by saying out that there’s more coronavirus testing than before, and that because of more testing, there are more cases.
I’m here to say that there is reason for alarm in some places. But the reason for alarm is not because of the increase in coronavirus cases in many places, but because many places are struggling to adequately handle coronavirus cases so severe that urgent intervention is needed.
In places hard-hit by the coronavirus, the local health care systems get completely overwhelmed by coronavirus patients. In parts of Italy, the health care system got so overwhelmed that doctors had to make heart-wrenching decisions about who to try saving and who to let die. In my hometown of New York, response times for emergency calls surged significantly at the height of the coronavirus, which in turn further endangered individuals already at risk. In Alabama, fellow blogger Kim reported a few weeks ago that hospitals in Montgomery were so overwhelmed that they were needing to start sending patients to Birmingham, which is 90 miles away from Montgomery; this additional wait for treatment also further endangered individuals already at risk. In places like these, the health care systems get so overwhelmed that lives are put at risk or worse—lives are lost. That is reason for alarm.
But, how is one to respond to the alarm? I have five words to say: wear masks and socially distance. People should do those two things, as much as possible. I know people want to give their friends a hug, and I know that the masks can feel hot during the summer, but this is not about you. It’s about others. Namely, it’s about saving others’ lives. It’s about making sure that our emergency responders, nurses, and doctors don’t get overwhelmed. It’s about making sure that the immunocompromised don’t catch the virus and end up seriously ill (or dead) because of irresponsible actions from others. If you don’t want to wear masks and socially distance for yourself, do it for others, because wearing a mask and practicing social distancing are the two best ways to do your part to limit the spread of this pandemic.
Note that I will not have a post next Monday because of the July 4th holiday the previous Saturday.
Those of you who have been following the weekly updates on how I’m doing, and how my city (New York City) is doing with the coronavirus, will know that I am in a pretty stable situation professionally. As a result, I didn’t need the federal government to give me $1,200…yet I was given it anyway since many of us are receiving somewhere between $1,200 and $4,700.
If you are a person struggling to make ends meet, you need not feel guilty about using the money to help yourself financially. In fact, you’re the kind of person who was envisioned as benefiting the most from receiving the money.
However, if you are like me in that you don’t need the money, I strongly recommend that you give away the money in ways that help those less fortunate (because there are so many people less fortunate than you, in that case). However, you may be struggling to figure out how best to use the money you received to help others. In today’s post, I offer some suggestions of the types of places where you can donate your money, in no particular order:
Food banks: Right now, food banks are the way that many people are surviving during these times. However, food banks need financial resources as well as donations of canned and dry goods, and that’s where your donations can come in.
Services that deliver food to seniors and/or those with underlying health conditions: There are a lot of people who need food but can’t easily go out to get it because they fall into a population that is at risk for suffering a severe case of the coronavirus (seniors and those with underlying health conditions). That is where a service that delivers food to people can be so vital. I will likely donate some of my $1,200 to one such service.
Anything that helps our health care workers: I’m leaving this open-ended because there are so many ways to help our health care workers. The public hospital system in New York is accepting donations that will help support the day-to-day needs of their workers, but the needs for hospital workers in New York may be different than what they are in another part of the United States.
Anything to support local small businesses: Many nonessential small business staff have been hit particularly hard by the coronavirus. As a result, some small businesses have started up crowdfunding campaigns to help their employees, some patrons of these businesses have looked to buy gift cards (in order to keep some sort of cash flow coming into the businesses), and some patrons of local restaurants have stepped up their support by ordering in or taking out with frequency. Regardless of the method of support, using your money to support your favorite local small businesses is money well spent.
Services that give support to those most vulnerable to physical, mental, and/or emotional harm during the coronavirus: This is a time when there is an elevated risk of domestic violence. This is also a time when some people in the LGBTQ+ community may be struggling while living with family who are highly rejecting of their identity. It is also a time when many people already struggling with their mental health may be struggling even more so. You may want to consider donating to an organization that helps provide support and/or services to a group of the population particularly vulnerable to harm during the coronavirus, such as one of the groups mentioned before.
Organizations that will help fight the spread of the coronavirus in places where health care infrastructure is poor: Okay, so for a developed country, the United States does not have a good health care infrastructure. However, this virus is poised to hit parts of the world that have health care infrastructure even worse than that of the United States. Therefore, an organization such as Doctors Without Borders, an organization that will help fight the spread of this virus in parts of the world where health care infrastructure is poor, is money well-spent.
Of course, this list, while somewhat extensive (I hope), is not comprehensive. With that in mind, if anyone here has other suggestions of types of places (or specific organizations) we should give our money to, please feel free to comment below! Hopefully, this list will provide the most fortunate among us an opportunity to think about where to donate, and might also make my readers going through hard times think about how they can best be helped during these times.
Last week, there seemed to be some reader interest in my update on how I’m doing, and how my city is doing, with the coronavirus. Given that fact, I will be continuing to post these weekly updates until the coronavirus settles down in New York City.
I, personally, am lucky economically. I heard that over three million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits. I am not one of them, and to the contrary, I am not losing any pay as a result of this crisis. Yes, there are certainly quirks involved with working from home (which I started doing last Monday), especially when your priorities compete with the priorities of other family members working or studying from home. Nevertheless, when I consider the fact that over three million of my fellow Americans are filing for unemployment benefits, I am lucky economically.
I am also lucky health-wise (so far). I’ve had some minor seasonal allergies, but I have never run a fever and have never exhibited the symptoms that come with the coronavirus. Hopefully it stays that way for me and for my entire family.
New York City is not so lucky. My city is at the epicenter of this pandemic. At this point, well over 20,000 cases have been reported in New York City (and that may be low-balling). Granted, some of the reason for the high numbers is because testing has been more widely available in New York City (and New York State as a whole) than most other places. But some of it is because the situation here is genuinely bad. A hospital in the same neighborhood as my alma mater high school reported over a dozen deaths from the coronavirus in 24 hours. Doctors and nurses are getting sick. There is still a grave concern about hospitals in New York City running out of certain medical supplies, including ventilators. The medical system in my area is severely strained. To those who think people are exaggerating how bad this pandemic is at the epicenter, I have two words to say: think again.
Those of you who’ve been on my blog during the last week or so will know that I’m doing a mini-series on what it was like to have current candidate for president Michael Bloomberg as Mayor of New York City. I explained in Part One why his record as mayor is relevant, and I explained in Part Two the multitude of problems he had with his treatment of others. Today is the third and final part of my mini-series, which will go into his record on some other issues, as well as where we should go from here with the Bloomberg candidacy.
One of the most important issues this campaign is that of trying to “save our democracy.” And rightfully so, because there is a genuine fear among many that President Trump is dangerous to American democracy. However, if Mayor Bloomberg’s record tells us anything, it’s that he would also be a danger to American democracy. New York City voted not once, but twice, to have term limits for people holding elected office in New York City government (mayor, comptroller, public advocate, council members). Yet, Bloomberg, with the help of the city council at the time, overturned the voice of the people, and changed the limit from two terms to three (it was changed back to two terms…after Bloomberg won a third term). People fear that President Trump would try to overturn the election if he loses, or ruin our democracy further if he wins—those are understandable fears because he has been, for example, not always indicated a willingness to concede an election to a winning candidate, even if it is clear he loses the election. However, Bloomberg, with the help of the New York City Council, managed to do something that not even President Trump has managed to do (yet): actually overturn an election (Bloomberg overturned two, after all). If he becomes President of the United States, let’s hope he leaves his ability to overturn elections in New York City, and not bring that ability to Washington, DC.
He gets praise for his stance on the environment. And, in theory, I agree with him on the fact that the environmental crisis should be treated with urgency. However, I find that praise hollow when he drastically cut funding from public transit while he was mayor, even though use of public transit instead of the car does a world of good for the environment. It’s also hollow when his own environmental practices were subpar, such as having an entourage of SUVs that often idled (mostly to keep on the air conditioning unit on in the SUVs so that he could stay cool during the summer)—he apologized for the idling, but not for the use of the SUVs in the first place (or even an explanation of why those environmentally-unfriendly gas guzzlers were necessary for his team), to my knowledge.
Bloomberg also tries to cultivate an image for himself as being just on health care. Yet, his record on health care in New York City was anything but. Noteworthy was the number of community hospitals that, under his tenure, were forced to close. The New York Times editorial board accused Mayor Bloomberg of having long ago “checked out” on this issue, and a then-mayoral candidate by the name of Bill de Blasio got arrested for protesting the proposed closure of one of the hospitals. Bloomberg also vetoed a proposed law that would have required many city businesses to provide paid sick leave, so if he got his way (he didn’t, ultimately), then tough luck to those working for businesses that didn’t provide the paid sick leave—you’d better work through your flu with a fever of over 102 degrees, even though that would, of course, endanger yourself and others.
Economically, the wealthy became even wealthier. There’s no doubt about that. But if you weren’t wealthy? Not so much. While he thought that taxes on the wealthy were a dumb idea, he thought it was preferable to shoulder the burden of “fiscal responsibility” on unions by letting the contracts of every single one of New York City’s 153 unions expire—unions where many of the members are in the middle and working class. The most painful example of economic inequality under Bloomberg’s watch, however, was that was the increase in homelessness that happened while he was mayor—an increase that continues to this day. While I acknowledge that there may be certain factors with such trends that may not have been in his control (such as policies at the state or federal level), this is a fact worth reflecting on. Given that economic inequality is such a major issue of this era, it’s puzzling that the Democrats would even consider nominating someone for President of the United States who oversaw economic inequality become substantially worse when he was mayor of his own city.
The bottom line is that, when doing a thorough examination of his record as mayor, his record was overwhelmingly an ugly one on social justice issues. Even more alarming is the fact that many of these social justice issues he was poor on are issues that are relevant today, for whoever is President of the United States—issues such as racism, sexism, economic inequality, and protecting our democracy. As to whether you think Bloomberg is still better than the other candidates in spite of all the baggage I’ve presented, that’s for you to decide. Just make sure you vote whenever you have the opportunity.