1. There were other perhaps possibilities. The Gates Foundation and Amazon announced teaming up to secure COVID-19 testing kits not available elsewhere to Seattle homes March 11, later to be extended to Amazon’s 800,000 employees, many wondered who was their feudal lord if they didn’t live in Seattle, even if schools had begun to close in Kings County. We were forgetting Amazon refused paid sick leave, even as the private web-based delivery service as poised to grow Jeff Bezos’ fortune another $24bn in the coronavirus pandemic, sending its stock share price rising 4% against the tide to record highs, even as Amazon workers walked out to protest the lack of health safeguards at its warehouses.
Rather than mentioning need for an excess profit tax, or suggesting the need for introducing a wealth tax, Trump insisted we were safe, even as job losses were slated to spread across the fifty states, as 3.5 million workers were at risk of losing employer provided health insurance by the month’s close. The back-of-the-envelope calculation by economist Gabriel Zucman predicted a 30% decline of demand in one quarter alone as a 7.5% drop of GDP, imposting a severe recession, in a quick study issued with Emmanuel Saez, that he argued could create massive layoffs only the government could defer: rapid consequences of a loss of employer-provided health insurance revealed by the month’s end how closely tied the loss of income was a loss of health coverage across the nation:
Trump assured viewers with no basis that the crisis was merely “a moment in time that we will overcome together as a nation and as a world,” as he began to “speak with you about our nation’s unprecedented response to the coronavirus outbreak that started in China and is now spreading throughout the world” in solemnity. To get over it, he offered the usual cocktail that mounted to bread and circuses, and another securing of dangers by firming up our own protective boundary lines: Trump ensured the nation of low-interest loans and deferred tax payments in the offing, as he boasted of having quickly closed borders to all but essential travel–as if he headed off a crisis potentially far worse.
For President Trump had exploited his prominent place in national airwaves to cast the coronavirus as but a distraction that viewed the alleged outbreak as a problem of messaging and by a purely national lens. But heagreed to social distancing as a collective policy to the global pandemic. The illusion that containment in hotspots of the virus’ arrival in late February already assumed new proportions as its spread through asymptomatic individuals was realized, late in the game, and the problem of mapping the contagion grew, replaced by questions of when a lockdown would begin emerged.