We’ve been exposed to and by covid-19.

We are unprepared for a significant national emergency and interruption to our daily routines and economy. This interruption isn’t due to the number of individuals that are sick and actually afflicted by the virus, but instead our lack of preparation for the virus and our early responses to it.

We are now seeing that prior cuts to the CDC, NIH, and other agencies that are the front lines to predict, prepare for, and lead the response to such an emergency have greatly compromised our ability to respond. Covid-19 is most dangerous to those with a compromised immune system. These cuts have compromised the immune system of the U.S. And it was a choice that we made.

We are now seeing that the impact is going to be felt the greatest by those already living on the edge of poverty and in the margins of our society. This is the norm, but as that population goes, so goes the health of the more affluent. As Wellstone said, “we all do better when we all do better.” This applies not just to social justice and wages, but equity in access to paid sick leave and affordable health care.

Our unwillingness to address these two issues means a significant number of our population is now endangering the entire population. Many individuals do not have the luxury of staying home from work when they are their kids sick, getting to the doctor at the first signs of infection, let alone then quarantining themselves for fourteen days. Even that temporary loss of income plus medical bills might result in eviction or bankruptcy for the working poor. Why are there even working poor?

Our distrust of our own government and/or our own news sources, coupled with a proclivity to assign a grand conspiracy to any inconvenience rendered us largely impotent to take early steps. The result might be an overwhelming of our already-at-capacity health care facilities that could have been avoided.

We’ve been exposed.

And now we are panicking.

Maybe this exposure can serve as an inoculation for the next national crisis and emergency so that we can do better.

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