WHO Declares Coronavirus a Global Pandemic — The World Health Organization on Wednesday declared the novel coronavirus a global pandemic, emphasizing that, with sufficient political will, nations can still change the course of the outbreak, Common Dreams reports. WHO’s director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said this designation doesn’t change the organization’s threat assessment or course of action, nor should it change what countries do. He disparaged unnamed countries’ “alarming level of inaction” and outlined the issue of preventing large COVID-19 community transfer. The virus has spread to at least 114 countries and killed over 4,000 people. The number of cases outside China has increased 13-fold and the number of affected countries has tripled. WHO has “rung the alarm bell loud and clear” for countries’ “urgent and aggressive action.”
Lack of Universal Health Care Will Worsen Coronavirus Spread — The lack of universal healthcare in the U.S. is accelerating the spread of coronavirus. For-profit healthcare prioritizes the needs of individual insured patients, rather than treating an overall issue, and so exacerbates public health emergencies like this one. Allowing widespread testing and disbursing preventative materials like masks hasn’t been profitable, so Americans remain untested and at high risk. The federal government has not assured that the coronavirus test, when widely available, will be at no cost—in one instance according to Truthout, a patient with insurance was charged $500 in co-pays. Those who get tested could face destitution from medical cost and quarantine, and underinsured patients turned away from treatment present a risk of spread to the broader community.
Despite Losses, Bernie Sanders’ Agenda Is Winning — Bernie Sanders will need to show three strengths over Joe Biden at the March 15 Arizona debate: that he is the working peoples’ champion, is equipped to handle a nationwide crisis like coronavirus, and is positioned to beat Trump in the general election. But Sanders can maintain his established platform, particularly concnering Medicare for All. Numerous exit polls show voters favoring implementing a single-payer healthcare system that would replace private insurance—77% of Democratic voters say they support Medicare for all, reports In These Times.
Though polls consistently show that Sanders would defeat Trump, mainstream media has pushed Biden and his centrist politics as the “safe choice” while warning against Sanders’ supposedly “radical” democratic socialist policies. Exit polls show Sanders’ message of empowering the working class is gaining traction, with voters seeking a complete overhaul of the economy, favoring socialism, and wanting a candidate with a more progressive agenda than Obama’s.
Online Election Misinformation — Voters in the Democratic primaries have been facing long lines, technical glitches, and misinformation. A watchdog group informed the Center for Public Integrity that it found several social media accounts spreading lies, like telling voters to go to polls on Wednesday this past Tuesday and Super Tuesday. Such groups are concerned particularly that targeted misinformation could exploit coronavirus fears to deter older voters from going to the polls. In Texas on March 3, a robocall circulated falsely alerting registered Democrats to vote the following day. Online researchers are monitoring social media to prepare for an uptick in disinformation and misinformation preceding the November general election.
Combining Economic and Public Health Measures for Coronavirus —FAIR’s CounterSpin radio interviewed Economic Policy Institute research director Josh Bivens about the intersection of public health and economic issues surrounding coronavirus. He notes that recession caused by an epidemic creates a unique set of problems; people stop spending money to avoid being around others, rather than because they lack income. To address this, he considers transferring resources to low- and moderate-income people and mandating temporary paid sick leave to every U.S. worker for the next six months. The government should cover all coronavirus-related testing to enable more people to contribute data and get treated, address the epidemic’s scope, and keep money in people’s pockets. Bivens posits that people shouldn’t allow pharmaceutical companies to gouge prices for a coronavirus vaccine, and hopes the realization follows that companies shouldn’t be allowed to gouge prices at all.
The Writing Is on the Wall for Bernie Sanders — While Bernie Sanders’ Democratic campaign showed a promising lead in national polls into Super Tuesday, Joe Biden won states in snowballing victories, including Michigan, where Sanders had an upset win in 2016. Mother Jones reports House Majority Whip James Clyburn, whose endorsement helped power Biden’s South Carolina resurgence, said the Democratic National Committee should end the primaries if Biden wins all six Tuesday contests. Two prominent pro-Democratic outside groups announced their general election campaigns, assuming Biden as the nominee. But Sanders’ campaign is committed to promoting progressive policies. Sanders still wants to debate Biden to offer questions about Medicare for All, transforming U.S. energy, and college accessibility to create a roadmap for the Democratic future.
NY Gov Using ‘Slave Labor’ To Manufacture Hand Sanitizer — New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on March 9 plans for prison inmates to manufacture hand sanitizer to combat shortages caused by the coronavirus. Colorlines reports that justice groups are enraged that incarcerated people working for less than $1 per hour, who themselves are forbidden from possessing hand sanitizer for its high alcohol content, must produce it at just $6 a gallon. Lack of soap and broken sinks make following basic public health guidelines prohibitive for inmates under normal circumstances. Activist groups are calling this plan “slave labor” for its low pay and threat of retribution for non-cooperative inmates.
Coronavirus Not the Way To Decrease Emissions — Economists and policy analysts worry about how financial disruption caused by coronavirus could harm institutions’ efforts to reduce emissions, according to InsideClimate News. But COVID-19 shows how a significant threat can spur change with climate benefits that activists have been trying to inspire for decades. Employees can get used to working from home, cutting driving emissions. Since February, greenhouse gas emissions are down 25% compared to last year in China, but emissions have a long history of falling during economic turmoil, only to rebound and offset the decline. The drop in oil and fossil fuel prices could also discourage investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy.
Harvey Weinstein Sentenced to 23 Years in Prison — Disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein has been sentenced to 23 years in prison by a New York judge after being convicted of one count of third-degree rape and one count of committing a criminal sex act. Salon reports his attorneys pleaded for the statutory minimum sentence Monday, but Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi argued that with Weinstein’s alleged history of sexual harassment, assault, and bullying, he has “displayed a staggering lack of empathy, treating others with disdain and inhumanity.” Under sentencing guidelines, the once powerful Hollywood mogul could have received as many 29 years in prison and as few as five.
1. Trump news – live: President will not take coronavirus test despite dining with infected official as New York City declares state of emergency (The Independent)
2. Why Trump Intentionally Misnames the Coronavirus (The Atlantic)
3. House Democrats Set Up Coronavirus Paid Leave Standoff With Senate (HuffPost)
4. Coronavirus: Italy says 1,000 have died but lockdown can work (BBC)
5. Federal Reserve injects $1.5tn to markets as virus panic spreads (The Guardian)