As we saunter into the second month of this global pandemic and our age of quarantine, we have seen a major lack of trust in…well virtually everything. Recently there’s been a lot protests against the stay at home orders and the realities of this virus. There was an overwhelming amount of people that just wanted to get haircuts, because a fresh fade is really what represents freedom. It’s like these folks were scared that if their hair grows a bit too much, they might become hippies and start caring for their fellow man, eating veggies and realize that Socialism isn’t all that bad! They might wake up from their conditioned, corporate slavery and that America isn’t about freedom but really veiled authoritarianism wrapped up in anti-intellectualism! You don’t need long hair for that! You just need to let some neurons fire in what’s deep under all that hair.
Calls for liberating each state and reinstating a sense of normalcy were made over twitter, as the lack of trust turned into more and more conspiracy theories and opportunism from misinformation. So let’s try and clear up this misinformation and look for way forward from all this. And if you don’t want to listen to this, I suppose you can shave off all your hair in protest, but I doubt that it’s going to prove much of anything.
The confusion about this global pandemic stems from the name of the virus itself. Most of us believe that it’s the 19th variation of the COVID stand of coronaviruses, but that isn’t actually accurate. The virus is SARS-CoV-2, and much like it’s predecessor, SARS-CoV-1 is type of novel coronavirus. It’s the second strand of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. The disease that virus is responsible for is COVID-19, which was named by the World Health Organization for the year it was discovered. They are if nothing, but a beacon of clever nomenclatures.
The confusion stems from the way the WHO decided to introduce the term. Because of the negative connotation about Asian countries surrounding SARS and humanity’s inclination to choose fear and hatred over understanding and compassion, they decided to call it the “virus that causes COVID-19” and then eventually just called it “COVID-19”. And now even that’s evolved as some people are calling it “the case of the VIDs”, which makes it sound like an STI that you get from sleeping with a former MTV VJ. Some folks are calling it “the Rona”, which gives this thing a far more regal quality. I supposed only rich people can afford the testing maybe it’s fitting. I think eventually we’ll refer to it as “the virus formerly known as COVID-19, but more accurately called SARS-CoV-2! Get over your racism and embrace the scientific nomenclature and pick up a book”. It doesn’t roll of the tongue but I think it’s pleasingly accurate.
Twitter trended with #FilmYourHospital, as people drove past hospitals making conjectures that the hospitals were actually not being used at all. This was based on parking lot occupancy, and whether there was or was not a tumble weed rolling in front of the place. Now there aren’t any first hand reports of the occupancy of these hospitals because of a little known privacy act called HIPAA or the Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act. People in hospitals don’t want cameras to be shoved their faces and neither do healthcare professionals who are trying to do their jobs. Hell I would either. Even when I’m recording this, if I had someone else filming me film myself, it’d be awkward as hell!
Even doctors are barred from talking about what goes on inside of the hospitals, even if it’s about procedural concerns. That was the case for Dr. Ming Lin who was fired from Bellingham’s PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center for publicly pointing out that patients who have COVID-19 are being kept in the same spaces as regular ICU patients. He blew the whistle on improper patient care, without giving names or taking photos of patients and was fired because of it. Dr. Lin forgot that America has a very strict shoot the messenger policy.
The hospital in Bellingham is staffed by TeamHealth, a staffing firm owned by a Hedge Fund company, that basically made a strong stance for protecting their public image rather than doing the right thing! Someone’s been taking cues from the Democratic Party! Say nice things but don’t actually anything to stand by it. Get that photo-op and then ignore the existence of the poors!
Now since having regular patients and COVID-19 patients in the same space seems like a real dick move, the ideal thing to do would be to create sanitized spaces to that was specifically set to handle, testing, treatment and the care of pandemic patients. At this current moment, the testing kits are in short supply and are very expensive. And not only that, the tests aren’t testing for the disease COVID-19 but rather the presence of the virus SARS-CoV-2. Which would explain why folks that are testing positive are asymptotic, meaning not showing symptoms of the disease COVID-19.
But since testing kits are in short supply and the manufacturing wing in America has been corrupted by the parasite of unfettered Capitalism, that’s not particularly a solution we’ll see in the near future. Instead we are taking baby steps, to ensure that babies are born without knowing who their fathers are. That’s right, currently in our hospitals, to reduce contact with the outside world, partners of pregnant women are not allowed to be present at the birthing of their child. An unseen side effect of COVID-19 is going to be an astronomical rise in Daddy issues.
Most hospitals have cancelled most elective surgeries, including dental ones. This does mean that your nose job doesn’t matter and your haircut and eyebrow trimming never has because they’re not surgeries no matter how much you yell about them. Vanity is very much non-essential and it doesn’t matter how uncomfortable it is, you’re going to be ok at the end of this.
Now this move would make sense, considering you’d want all available medical staff to fight the pandemic, but with testing kits in short supply or far too expensive for regular people to get them, this seems like another way to sit idle and do what TeamHealth did…show face with no action behind it. Had this come with a plan to use the manufacturing power of America to create test kits, while ensuring that those are on the front lines are taken care of, we’d be a less stir crazy and paranoid country. Had there been a push of instating Medicare For All and a Universal Basic Income tied in with a rent freeze, people would be less angry & distrustful of the leadership in place.
Because of this some people have taken matters in their own hands. And no I’m not talking about the people that are buzzing their own hair to combat socialism. I’m talking about doctors like Dr. Armen Henderson in Miami, who has been treating and testing the homeless population while making sure they have tents to sleep in and food to eat so they too can practice the necessary social distancing measures. Now data shows that homeless folks are spreading the virus pretty quickly thought their communities. In homeless communities that have been tested, close to 50% of the homeless population has the virus, and a lot them aren’t showing symptoms of the disease.
Now Dr. Henderson was recently racially profiled by the Miami Police Department. He was committing the crime of being black in Florida and not partying in Miami. As Dr. Henderson was loading up his van with tents and cleaning out boxes and setting them on the curb for the regular trash pick up, an officer handcuffed for “littering”. Dr. Henderson’s wife had to go in and get his ID to prove he lived there. Now we have to think about the dangerous situation this police offer was in. I mean some of these cardboard boxes can give folks a paper cut and that’s a Defcon Alpha level boo boo. Sometimes they require 2 bandaids, a few orange slices and a snuggle to make you feel better! As a doctor, I’m surprise Dr. Henderson didn’t realize the weapon he was carrying!
With the lack of testing, horrible treatment of doctors and isolated pregnancies, where do we go from here? Well there are a few options. And they all involve shedding this idea of normalcy and pushing for a better future. One that involves logic, compassion, understanding and a lack of fear, hate and profits. Currently the WHO has said approximately 2-3% of the world has been infected with virus SARS-CoV-2, but not all of us are showing that we have the disease COVID-19. This information is based on the antibody tests that have come out in the recent weeks. This puts the fatality rate at under 1% in most places.
Now before we all start screaming “Open the country! Freedom! My hair! Dear god my hair!”, this is happening as we are social distancing and reducing our contact with folks. Had we go on as business as usual, these numbers would likely be way higher. With this is in mind, we could start a slow reintroduction of the population. Denmark for example has been sending little kids to school. Kids are carriers for the virus but not transmitters. After a little while, they can reintroduce teenagers and young adults. This will increase the amount of the population that has antibodies, and eventually all of their spaces will be open and ready to go.
Now in order to make this plan work, a Universal Basic Income with rent control would have to be passed. And to ensure that people that would get sick are taken care there would have to be paid sick leaves and Medicare For All. This means that the establishment, corporate leaders are going to have to let go of their profit driven agendas and move forward with a humanitarian one.
The other option is to create a treatment for plan for the sick. This would mean that as people get sick from the virus they have a place they can go and recover. This would mean expanding the healthcare system and ensuring that everyone can be taken of, which once again brings us to Medicare For All and Paid Sick Leave. This way if you’re sick, you don’t have to worry about missing work and pay. This was the problem at the start of this pandemic in the States, the obsession with needing to work because that’s how people afford healthcare and their bills. Getting sick by any means isn’t the worker’s fault, so why are they being punished for it!?
Going back to normalcy will only lead us right back to this moment. There are a lot of variables with this virus that’s leaving we the people in a place of uncertainty, paranoia and destitution. But we shouldn’t be looking to go back to normal! Normal was bullshit. Normal was firing a doctor for revealing the uncaring truth of a profit driven healthcare system. Normal was a doctor helping a vulnerable population suffering from a pandemic getting arrested in front of his home for being black. Normal was championing anti-intellectualism and corporatism, which go hand in hand. Normal was not valuing your own community and ignoring the struggles of your fellow human. We need better than normal.
Our way forward doesn’t come from supporting this status quo but for fighting for a better version the world. The callous winner take all ideologies have lost and will continue to lose the more we choose to take them. Look the truth is we are all in this together, and less we bicker about going back to the yesteryears of complacency and corporate wage slavery, the better our future will look. Stand for ideas that can, will and are moving us forward and we’ll get out this with heads high, and yes, with our hairs cut proper.
Krish Mohan is a socially conscious, Indian standup comedian and writer who regularly tours the country. He performs at small theaters, bars, comedy clubs, colleges, DIY and house venues. With his quirky attitude, charming personality, and intelligent humor, Krish captivates and engages audiences of all backgrounds, tackling hot button topics like race, religion, war, immigration, while adding an optimistic, philosophical & sociological twist!