Himani’s taking a much deserved respite from curating this week’s COVID-19 round-up so you’ve got me guiding you through this week’s COVID-19 news. In this edition, we’ll look at the disparate impact the coronavirus is having on marginalized communities, rages about government competence and incompetence and muses about what accountability looks like in the age of Corona.
The More You Know: COVID-19’s Impact on Marginalized Communities
From a scientific standpoint, there’s still so much we don’t know about the way coronavirus is impacting people — like, why it’s causing strokes in young and middle-aged folks — but, one thing is clear: communities that were marginalized before COVID-19 are experiencing disparate impact today.
Modern-Day Piracy, Courtesy of the US Government
Every day seems to bring something new to be outraged about… but, for me, this is at the top of the list. It was bad enough when the United States was engaging in “modern piracy” to disrupt the global medical supply chain but now the federal government has moved on stealing personal protective equipment (PPE) directly from states and hospitals.
In the United States, the disbursement of stimulus funds has been — to put it mildly — a shitshow: people aren’t getting the stimulus checks they were promised, large corporations are being shamed into returning small business loans they never should’ve applied for in the first place (ahem, Ruth’s Chris) and accountability and transparency measures are being disregarded entirely. On top of all of that, the money Congress has alloted is, as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez aptly described it, like a Band-Aid for a gunshot wound.
Given that, one of the things I’ve been really interested in is seeing how countries are providing relief for their citizens and, subsequently, boost their economy. Are other countries doing a better job at targeting resources to the most vulnerable? How are other countries boosting small businesses? And, perhaps more worrisome: how many countries are already starting to build austerity measures into “relief packages?”
What Does Accountability Look Like?
Often times, in the middle of a crisis, those of us who want accountability are told to wait. “Let us put the fire out, then we’ll investigate and hold the arsonist responsible.” The problem is, often, the longer you wait to try and dole out accountability, the less likely those responsible will ever be held responsible for their transgressions (see also: Iraq War, Katrina, the Great Recession, et. al.)
In the United States, Republicans are obsessed with holding China accountable — even though it’s not at all clear that the first American infections came from there — but there’s not enough talk about how we hold governments or businesses accountable for failures that have jeopardized public health. Is there civil or criminal liability for calling coronavirus a “hoax” or promoting fake cures? Is there civil or criminal liability for leaders and businesses that withhold information about the virus’ spread, subsequently exposing more people to potential illness? I’m not sure if we’ve even begun to scratch the surface of what accountability looks like…but I think the calls for it are going to grow deafening in the coming weeks.