Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos
Joe Biden may be 119 days from being elected president, but that isn't stopping him from trying to help the nation right now. From the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, Donald Trump has downplayed the seriousness of the disease, criticized governors who have taken action to save citizens, hawked ineffective snake oil, and bragged about what a great job he's doing. Through it all, Trump has resisted providing any real national plan. He's made it clear that he doesn't want to run testing stations "in some parking lot." He doesn't want states asking for supplies because the federal government "is not a shipping clerk." And when it comes to anything COVID-19 related, Trump has made it clear that coming to the federal government is "the last resort."
Oddly enough, Joe Biden believes that a nation should have a national plan. And unlike the Republican alternative to Obamacare—still missing in action after over eight years—Biden's COVID-19 plan actually exists. In fact, Biden is offering up the plan right now, and telling Donald Trump he can use it all. Because Biden's plan would actually save American lives and American incomes.
A quick look at Biden's plan shows that it's exactly the kind of thing that healthcare professionals have been asking for since January. Which is absolutely not a bad thing. Rather than leading by his "great instincts," Biden's plan shows that he's willing to listen to experts, act rationally, and use the power of the presidency to make things better for America. It's almost like … leadership.
Here's what Biden's offering:
- A national program of free, regular COVID-19 testing for everyone, managed by a Pandemic Testing Board that would coordinate the data and provide consistent access. This includes expanding drive through test sites and test availability until no one has to wait, or to expose themselves to potential risk, to be tested for COVID-19. That compares with Trump's complete withdrawal of the pitiful few federally-managed test sites, the irregular, and unpredictable testing provided by many states, and results that are so difficult to obtain or so slow in coming that they're worthless.
- A national program of contact tracing that starts with at least 100,000 new hires and is dedicated to doing nothing but tracking COVID-19 cases, their contacts, and their progress through the healthcare system or in self-isolation. This would work in conjunction with states that are currently throwing up their hands at the impossibility of working through contacts with the available resources. Compare to nothing at all from Trump's side, because apparently the federal government isn't a clerk, or a manager, or worth a damn thing with Trump in charge.
- A consistently managed, sustainable supply chain for PPE, test kits, and safety gear for healthcare workers. Four months into the pandemic, states are again complaining that masks, gowns, gloves, and face shields are all in short supply, just as cases are surging. Compare to Trump, who has set state against state, and dispatched arbitrary amounts of supplies, often punishing blue states for not praising him sufficiently by denying them needed supplies.
- A team dedicated to looking ahead to needs that may crop up in the future, rather than just addressing the requests of states at the moment. Compare this with … whatever Jared is doing at the moment.
- A national promise to provide healthcare workers with:
- priority access to supplies of PPE.
- additional pay for placing themselves at risk.
- free housing to workers coming into crisis points.
- information hotlines and trustworthy on-line consultation.
- emotional-health support and psychological first aid with a promise that seeking help will not impact future employment.
- emergency leave for workers who get sick, or need to care for a sick family member.
- and no, there's no comparison for any of this.
- A coordinated global effort to develop treatments and vaccines that doesn't depend on "a hunch" about any drug, doesn't involve taking the U.S. our of the World Health Organization, and doesn't involve the U.S. trying to buy drug manufacturers to deprive other nations of access. Compare with the opposite. Biden is promising to immediately restore the U. S. association with and commitment to the World Health Organization.
- A guarantee that therapies and vaccines for COVID-19 will be made available to everyone, without allowing price gouging that limits benefits to the wealthy. Compare with … have you seen the price of remdesivir?
- Consistent national guidelines for reopening businesses and schools that include protections for worker safety, guaranteed sick leave, and guaranteed leave for those caring for a family member. Biden's plan would also provide systems by which consumers could know that stores were following safety guidelines and were "Safer for Shoppers" while providing small businesses with a "restart package" that would help them retain existing workers and hire new workers while dealing with necessary changes to their business. Compare with chaos, no guidelines, and shoppers being bullied for wearing a mask.
- Finally, Biden's plan would recognize something that Republicans keep saying—older Americans are at greater risk. But rather than treating this as an excuse to kill grandma to save Wall Street, Biden offers additional funding and testing to the elderly so that they can safely obtain the things they need and get care without facing increased risk.
Imagine if all of this had been implemented in May. Imagine if it had been implemented in March. Imagine if the plan had been spelled out in January and phased in as required.
America might now be mourning the two or three thousand who died in the COVID-19 peak that was crushed by national contact tracing in April. Shoppers would be visiting stores safely. Schools would be talking about reopening sensibly, knowing exactly the number of active cases in their area and that there were resources available to help them address any risk.
Compare with … Naw. Let's just vote, so we don't have to compare.
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