A Look at Richmond and COVID-19

By Peter Galuszka

Here is a roundup story I wrote for Style Weekly that was published today that explains the effects of COVID-19 on the Richmond area. Hopefully, BR readers will find it of interest.

It was a tough piece to report. The impacts of the deadly virus are very complicated and multi-faceted. An especially hard part was trying to keep with the fast-changing news, notably the number of new cases and deaths. We were updating right up until the story closed Monday afternoon. It was hard to talk to people with social-distancing and closings.

The experience shows the delicate balancing act between taking tough measures to stem the contagion and keeping the economy going. My view is that tough measures are needed because without them, it will all be much worse, particularly more illness and death as the experience in Italy has shown.

Incredibly, our utterly incompetent president, Donald Trump, now wants to focus on the economy more than taking necessary containment steps. It’s far too soon for that. Regrettably, a number of Bacon’s Rebellion commenters are sounding the same irresponsible tune in keeping with their big business and anti-regulation laud of free market capitalism.

Relaxing restrictions so soon will only bring the the expansion of the virus to its worst-case scenario. How do I know this? I don’t but then neither do the pro-business types.

Ironically, as the Style Weekly story reports, the worst hit are lower income people such as restaurant wait staff, home care providers and “gig” economy workers who do not have the sick pay and other cushions to keep them going. Some, such as Starbucks, Uber and Lyft, are doing what they can to help their contract employees. Hopefully, the new stimulus plan will help them although at this writing, a final version has not been decided.

Hopefully BR contributors will consider these folk. They aren’t exactly people who subscribe to the grand-sounding Thomas Jefferson  Institute for Public Policy, a right-wing think tank that supports the welfare of the rich.

COVID-19 is making many weaknesses in American society plain for all to see, such as economic and social inequality and the failures of the for-profit health care system. It’s time to make changes.