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COVID-19 crisis demands more planning, assistance

In this time of COVID-19 we desperately need good leadership. We know that the pandemic is going to get worse with the cold weather.

We need to get ready. We need more hospital beds. We need more PPE (personal protective equipment). We need more sanitizer and cleaning supplies. We need to keep people in their homes. We need our politicians to behave like public servants. We need them to look out for us and make our well being their top priority.

Our White House and Senate are not working for us. The first stimulus package gave money to airlines, cruise ships and casinos. We need every penny for hospitals and ordinary people.

Hospitals are facing a disaster. COVID patients are starting to arrive. The hospital has to treat everyone regardless of ability to pay.

Millions of people lost their employer based health insurance. Without money coming in the hospital will be unable to pay workers or suppliers. The company that supplies their linen won’t be able to buy soap. The soap company can’t buy raw materials, and so it goes rippling through our economy. We see the same pattern playing out at restaurants and small businesses.

We need more hospitals because Trump’s strategy to deal with the virus is “herd immunity.” For that to work 70% of the population has to be infected.

Think of what it will mean for Chautauqua County. We have 126,903 people. Let’s call it 100,000 just to make the math easier.

Seventy percent of 100,000 is 70,000 people sick. Twenty percent of the infected people will need the hospital. That’s 14,000 people. Of the 70,000 people sick 2% will die. That’s 1,400 dead people. We don’t have enough hospitals or undertakers.

Leadership in this situation is thinking ahead and trying to figure out where those thousands of new hospital beds are coming from A good leader speaks the truth so that people can make wise choices. You can’t remedy a situation if you don’t understand it.

Ironically we have plenty of empty hospital wards, all of Lake Shore and most of Westfield are empty so is a whole floor at Brooks. We need equipment and staff to fill it. Our rural empty hospitals are important to Buffalo as well.

The problem for Erie County will be worse. Its population, 919,040, is roughly eight times more than Chautauqua County. They will need eight times the hospital beds. The rural hospitals can ease the burden on the city ones. They can become specialized centers. Lake Shore could be devoted to pediatric care. Westfield could become a cardiac center and so on. This allows some of the pediatric wards in the city to switch to COVID care.

We need the stimulus money to go to ordinary people.

Canada’s economy is chugging along. They gave people who were out of work $2,000 a person a month for four months. This benefit was not just for people who had been displaced but also someone staying home to take care of someone who was sick.

The Trump administration gave us a one time check of $1,200. That is not going to cover six months of missed mortgage payments or rent. There will be a cascading series of financial disasters. Landlords and other people can’t pay their utilities. The water department can’t pay its workers or buy supplies. The chemical companies can’t pay their workers or suppliers and so on down the line.

Joe Biden has said “Hospitals and ordinary people are hurting. They need help.” The House Stimulus Package does just that. It puts money into all these things. Mitch McConnell won’t bring it up for a vote. Trump has said, “There will be no stimulus package until I win.”

That is not leadership. That is self-centered arrogance.

On his website, Biden presents a plan to invest in hospitals, direct student loan forgiveness, and Social Security boosts.

He has a plan to cover the cost of treating COVID-19. He advocates full paid sick leave for workers, and money for the local governments. He will pay for it by taxing the $731.8 billion Jeff Bezos made since March, When everyone else was closed Amazon made a killing.

What does good leadership look like? It looks like Biden.

Marie Tomlinson is a Fredonia resident. Send comments to editorial@observertoday.com

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