The Cure for Coronavirus? Medicare for All & Worker’s Rights

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Look, I would love to not make another video about coronavirus. Last month, I talked about the pseudoscience and racism surrounding the spread of the virus. To recap, here were my points:

*it’s not a bioweapon
*don’t be racist
*don’t panic
*don’t drink bleach

I feel like since then, everyone else has done a good job of stressing the fact that you should be washing your hands often and not touching your face so it’s not like I was champing at the bit to talk about coronavirus again. But as it is in the process of hitting the US right now, and things are most definitely going to get worse before they get better here, I think it’s worth examining the unique environment we have here in the US that makes it possible for this to be a truly serious threat to our society.

But before I get to that, I want to stress to the skeptics that the people you see buying groceries are not overreacting. It’s smart to prepare for the possibility of grocery stores being closed for three weeks.

Also I want to stress the fact that you should WASH YOUR HANDS. All the fucking time. And yeah, don’t touch your face. I can’t NOT touch my face so I am sharing with you a tip I learned a long time ago from none other than Mr. Adam Savage: touch things and other people with your right hand and use your left hand to touch yourself (for scratching or whatever, not masturbation. Though if you can get off with your non-dominant hand then go off. Or get off. If you’re left handed the entire thing goes to hell because you are gonna wanna touch everything and everyone with your left hand but then people will shake your right hand so you know what? Everyone just forget I said all this. Don’t touch your face).

I have talked a lot on this channel about universal healthcare and I swear it’s not just because it’s a pet issue of mine. I have other pet issues that hardly ever come up in videos, like how we should just legalize cannabis throughout the country and release everyone who is in prison for possession or dealing and maybe pay them a lot of money or at least give them all the available permits for selling cannabis legally. I don’t talk about that often because it doesn’t naturally come up often in these videos, which are broadly about science and critical thinking.

But single payer healthcare comes up in every other video because it is directly related to science and critical thinking, and establishing it in the US would immediately solve so many problems that are currently negatively affecting those of us who appreciate science and critical thinking.

Right now, if an American thinks they may have coronavirus, or COVID 19, a deadly virus that requires testing to verify, they will need to contact authorities and take an ambulance to a hospital. That requires them to take off work. Ten percent of Americans don’t get sick days at their full-time jobs, and 25% only get a handful. That is one reason why 90% of Americans admit they come into work even when they’re experiencing flu-like symptoms.

So we have a large population of workers who are likely to continue working despite being sick. Meanwhile, calling the authorities and letting them know you have COVID 19 symptoms will land you with a bill of about $2,700 just for the ambulance ride and radiology test alone, and that’s if the test comes back negative. If it’s positive? You’re fucked.

So now we have a large population of workers who are likely to continue working despite being sick and who are afraid to reach out for medical care because it could very well bankrupt them. Meanwhile, that population is in the perfect position to be taken advantage of by people like Alex Jones, who campaign against workers’ rights and healthcare but who have pumped up the prices on their bulk food kits they sell to panicked people, along with phony “cures” that do nothing.

Let’s add one final datapoint to this: America’s anti-science government. Thanks to Trump and his administration, the CDC has, as of this week, stopped reporting on the number of potential COVID-19 cases being tested in America. (Here’s a better, non-governmental source from Johns Hopkins.)

When you picture these workers getting sick and not changing their everyday life, you may be picturing an office worker, which is bad enough as they could infect their entire building, but I also want you to picture the guy getting minimum wage to make your burrito at Chipotle. The driver delivering your Chinese. The lady stocking the peppers at the grocery store. The cashier counting out your change into your hand. The teacher teaching your kids.

By not giving every one — including our lowest paid and most disrespected workers — access to guaranteed sick leave and comprehensive healthcare, we have put everyone at risk. Even you, guy who has a good-paying job with lots of sick leave and great insurance that you inexplicably “love.” We’re putting at risk the lives of our grandparents, our newborn babies, and our friends fighting cancer and other diseases. The best insurance-covered medical care in the world won’t save them all from this virus. What will save them is universal healthcare for everyone. What will save them is workers’ rights. What will save them is public education.

The only one I can really help with is that last one. Wash your hands. If you don’t have soap and hot water, use hand sanitizer. Don’t touch your face. Avoid crowds. Stock up on food, water, cold medicine, and other essentials before an official quarantine means you’ve got three weeks before the grocery store opens back up. And please vote for people who will give basic rights to the poorest, most at-risk people in our country. Because while trickle-down economics may not have worked, trickle-up health and happiness will.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca is a writer, speaker, YouTube personality, and unrepentant science nerd. In addition to founding and continuing to run Skepchick, she hosts Quiz-o-Tron, a monthly science-themed quiz show and podcast that pits comedians against nerds. There is an asteroid named in her honor. Twitter @rebeccawatson Mastodon mstdn.social/@rebeccawatson Instagram @actuallyrebeccawatson TikTok @actuallyrebeccawatson YouTube @rebeccawatson BlueSky @rebeccawatson.bsky.social

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