We have now entered the Twilight Zone — what day is it? How many more have died? What’s the latest restrictions? When are they going to test everybody?

What do we really know about the corona virus, now known as COVID-19? The information overload abounds on COVID-19’s effects on the U.S. and the world. But politics under the TrumpAdministration struggles to maintain business as usual — this while detention centers, nursing homes, prisons, and the Black and Latino communities are sitting ducks for this pandemic.

The Jerusalem Post announced in a headline dated April 8, 2020: “U.S. Department of Defense give[s] 1 million masks to IDF for coronavirus use” — IDF being Israel Defense Force. Outrage has since caused this story to be censored to delete the role of the U.S. Defense Department.

Every responsible leader called for shutting down in the face of this virus, forcing Trump to follow suit. The universities and public schools, state governors and local mayors, the NBA, MLB — all took action before Trump finally caved in. Seventeen people (out of 60 guests) who attended a March 8 birthday party at the Trump National Golf Club in Rancho Palos Verdes contracted COVID-19, including one mayor and one former mayor. Trump representatives refused to comment.

Trump has displayed nothing short of genocidal behavior. As he cried for bailing out the airline and cruise industries, he attacked state governors for asking for too much from the federal government. With hospitals overflowing, shortages of tests, masks, and protective wear for healthcare workers, and lack of ventilators for patients who are dying, our healthcare and economic infrastructure are now a house of cards.

Hell to the Chief, and the CDC, who decided they wanted to create their own COVID-19 test kits from scratch — American exceptionalism and individualism hailing this death march. They are too above learning from countries who have hard-earned experience dealing with COVID-19, and instead choose to bungle with American lives on their own terms, with their own test kits — American-made or bust!

Well, it looks like we’re busted — Number One in the World in COVID-19 Total Deaths while Number One Richest Country in the World. This in a nutshell describes the double-edged sword of U.S. imperialism, the system that we live under, and the system that dictates our government policies.

Healthcare workers suddenly realized that the richest country in the world doesn’t give a hoot about healthcare or its workers — one nurse cried that supply shortages are only supposed to happen in Third World countries, not here.

Trump points his finger of blame at China for infecting us with a “Chinese virus,” even though it was the airlines and cruise ships that actually brought COVID-19 into the U.S. And now they are finding that New York’s disaster traces back to Europe, not China. The WHO (World Health Organization) thanked Wuhan doctors, health officials, and researchers for sharing their knowledge of how they contained the pandemic in Wuhan. Trump’s response is accusing WHO for being China-centric.

Ironies abound in this pandemic time. The only presidential candidate who was calling for “Medicare for all” was Bernie Sanders. Now is the time when socialized medicine makes the most sense, and everybody feels it. What did he do? He just shut down his bid as other candidates threw in their chips to Joe Biden — “the man most able to beat Donald Trump.” This is the logic of the two-party system that we call democracy. And Bernie falls into that same logic.

He disappointed me four years ago and once again this time around for caving in to Democratic Party politics. I was about to congratulate him on going against all odds in order to put out the most sensible healthcare and humanitarian priorities that will help set this country back on its feet. Can’t do that now. When social distancing is a privilege, and Twitterspeak is trending #NotDying4WallStreet, Bernie turned in his chips to Biden.

Meanwhile, as the pandemic takes its toll, tests are still not available to everybody. Only those who show symptoms can be tested — unless you’re an NBA player, or part of an “essential elite.” The crazy part is you can show no symptoms, still have COVID-19 — but don’t qualify for testing.

It makes no sense that every healthcare worker, and all those providing essential services, are not being tested so they can safely perform essential services that allow us to social distance.

At least the CDC admitted it was a mistake to not follow WHO’s recipe for COVID-19 tests. Was this currying favor to stop being defunded by the feds? FDA rules initially prevented state and commercial labs from developing their own diagnostic tests. Now that those regulations have been lifted, the race is on to find “American-made” cures, vaccines, and tests. Is this too little too late, after how many lives are being lost?

None of this should be a surprise. Before the pandemic hit, we all knew that healthcare in the U.S. was expensive, a privilege, profit-driven, and concerned more with meeting administrative policy expectations instead of our real health needs. This is the richest country in the world with the biggest total death count from COVID-19.

Noam Chomsky recently said in reference to Trump’s lies: “The assiduous fact-checkers tote them up. I think it’s maybe 20,000 by now or something. And he’s laughing all the way. This is perfect. You tell constant lies, what happens is the concept of truth just disappears.” (Interview on “Democracy Now” with Amy Goodman, April 10, 2020)

Why isn’t health a human right — especially in the richest country in the world? Hell to the Thief sitting in the White House. The richest country in the world with the highest death toll — this one’s on you, Donald Trump.


Mary Uyematsu Kao, a retired Sansei and photo-journalist, is the author of the upcoming book “Rockin’ the Boat: Flashbacks of the 1970s Asian Movement,” co-published by UCLA Asian American Studies Center and Mary Uyematsu Kao. Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

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