Consumer Research Reports, Health & Medicine

Coronavirus in the United States : The Fear Campaign

Every four years, candidates for the White House crisscross the country to rally crowds in large electoral rallies. This year things are very different. If they could still, until a few days ago, organize small gatherings, everything has changed. The ban on meetings of more than ten people turns the heart of the campaign upside down, that of public meetings like that of fundraising, of which we know the major role across the Atlantic.

Competitors must find other ways to mobilize voters from a distance. Biden, for example, organized “virtual events” ( virtual events ), the opportunity for him to give speeches broadcast by video. Bernie Sanders chose him, the “discussions by the fire” ( fireside chats ), a proven genre but now live streaming. He answers them in front of a fireplace to the questions of his campaign team. SMS and phone calls are also increasing. So much the worse in a democratic battle that has always favored proximity with voters.

Who’s Afraid of Coronavirus?

One after the other, the states postpone the primary or encourage distance voting. As we know, these elections are held on different dates.

Several federal administrations postponed the vote to nominate the Democratic candidate. The use of mail is also encouraged, but it is only legally possible in states that ordinarily offer it (otherwise, it would take months to authorize and organize it). The general elections, those which will designate the president, should not, however, be postponed. The tradition will be saved: they will take place in November.

Initial studies indicate this: voters do not fear the epidemic in the same way according to their partisan preference. Thus, two-thirds of the Republican voters declare that they are not particularly afraid of the coronavirus. The proportion is reversed among Democratic voters: they would be two-thirds to be nourished by worry.

This is explained by several factors: the democrats’ distrust of Donald Trump and his ability to stem the epidemic, more urban sociology (and we know that the virus is spreading more in the city, due to the higher population density ), and finally a greater ideological affinity with the theories of the end of the world (collapsology) that this pandemic comes to reinforce with brilliance. It should be noted, however, that the most conservative fractions who admit their fear of the virus say that they radically nourish this feeling. A political atmosphere which is also measured by a specific phenomenon: the increase in sales of arms and ammunition. With the fear of the virus increases the threat of a general disorder, in particular the occurrence of looting.

What does Donald Trump do?

The head of the White House has a special audience in these times of health crisis. He used it, at first, to minimize the magnitude of the threat, like most executives whose country was in phase 1 of the epidemic. If he too has to bow to the primary, Trump faces very little competition within his own party. So he is guaranteed to be the Republican presidential candidate for November.

The main issue for the outgoing president? His economic record, which he believes will allow him to be re-elected for a second term. In recent months, the recovery of the economy has been very favorable to its popularity, including among the moderate Democratic electorate. However, the fall of the stock market darkens this calendar.

What states must avoid at all costs, in the United States as elsewhere, is a financial collapse. The reason why emergency measures are being adopted to inject huge sums of money into the economy. Whether it’s to compensate for the shortfalls in professions rolled up by confinement, to finance sick leave (which is not mandatory in US law) or to improve unemployment benefits, President Trump would rally it to socialism? In fact, forgetting all monetary orthodoxy, he “puts the package” to support the order books and thus keep the confidence of the markets. Hundreds of billions of dollars have already been pledged. A rescue action that the president defends in the name of the fight against the “Chinese virus”.

What is the health situation today in the United States?

We know that the virus is now present in all states, that it has affected, according to official figures, at least 33,000 people in the country and killed 428 of them. The most affected cities are New York, Washington DC, and the urban centers of California. Note that, specific to this country, the figures for victims of coronavirus are given by the press and not by the authorities. The peak of contagion is expected by the end of April. It is after this date that the restrictive measures will be gradually lifted.

How does the US health system influence the management of the health crisis?

This is a much-debated point. The insurance dimension of the health system was the subject of controversy in the electoral campaign. Since Barack Obama’s first election in 2008, health insurance has been a hot topic. Among Democrats as among Republicans, there is no longer any hesitation in politicizing the issue of health coverage. We saw it with Bernie Sanders who seized the opportunity to bring back to center stage his radical reform project “Medicare for All”. The demand goes far beyond the question of the treatment of epidemics. But the fact that health suddenly became a major concern allows him to attract attention like never before.

The federal administration does not sit idly by. Exceptional measures compensate for flaws in the health system. In normal times, the emergency services are legally obliged to stabilize “the condition of patients arriving with immediate danger”. They are not, however, required to accept patients who are unable to pay. Some hospitals offer free reception, but not all, and each according to their own criteria.

The specificity of the coronavirus is its asymptomatic and benign character for the majority of cases. Unsystematic screening and the absence of recognized treatment at the time of the outbreak of the pandemic have shaken up the notion of “immediate danger”. The problem of “being able to pay” for treatment was therefore not posed in the same terms with the coronavirus.

A law of March 13, 2020, opened federal funding to cover the costs of Covid-19 screening tests, including for the uninsured. But these tests are out of stock. In this country, which is at the forefront of the biomedical industry, production capacities have proved to be insufficient. The example of South Korea shows us that reactivity in the production of screening kits is crucial to stemming the epidemic. Otherwise, the United States, like most western countries, has focused on containing its people.

The emergency measures initiated by President Trump target the financing and production of missing products (tests, masks, respirators). In recent days, as the pharmaceutical industries announce a period of 12 to 18 months to develop a vaccine, the recognition of chloroquine treatment and the delivery of doses to US hospitals could accelerate the recovery from the crisis without calling into question the functioning of the country’s health system.

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