While the thought of catching the coronavirus is something that many dread, this growing pandemic also highlights a troubling lack of adequate health care in the United States.
The term coronavirus refers to a large group of viruses that are common among animals, but in rare cases can be transmitted to humans. Symptoms of the virus include those that are similar to the common cold: runny nose, coughing, sore throat, headaches and possible fever.
Even though these are mild symptoms, for those with compromised immune systems and without access to healthcare it can lead to serious respiratory illnesses like severe cases of pneumonia and bronchitis.
A study by the Journal of the American Medical Association found that a sample size of over 70,000 carried an overall 3% fatality rate. While no deaths occurred for those younger than age 9 in this sample, those ages 70 to 79 carried an 8% fatality rate and those older than 80 had a 14.8% rate.
With the 12 deaths in Washington and California this past week, panic has set in across the nation.
As hysteria only continues to grow from the rapid spread, the number of Americans with health care has only declined according to a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation. The survey found that 2018 saw a 500,000 person increase in those without health insurance.
This state of panic has also worked to bring out the worst qualities of humans. Fear of the virus has created this anti-Asian sentiment that has sparked racist verbal tirades on Los Angeles and New York City subways. Now all of a sudden it seems whenever a person who looks Chinese coughs, it has to be coronavirus.
There are some things in life that we as humans deserve the right to, and one of those things is universal healthcare. Instead of padding our country’s defense budget for potential World War III scenarios, we need to prioritize defending our people from more realistic threats like this and other possible outbreaks in the future.
If coronavirus, or any other virus in the near future, mass spreads in the United States, how would we even begin to handle it? While hysteria over the virus spreads faster than the virus itself, it is clear that we as a country are no where near prepared and we need to strive toward more accessible health care for all.