Socialist Worker

Trump forced into small climbdown as death toll and US virus count rise

by Sophie Squire
Issue No. 2698

Donald Trump is pursuing a disastrous strategy around coronavirus

Donald Trump is pursuing a disastrous strategy around coronavirus (Pic: Fickr/Gage Skidmore)


The US last week overtook China to become the country with the highest number of corona virus cases.

Donald Trump celebrated the fact, saying that this was a “tribute to our testing”.

The two leading health officials on Trump’s Coronavirus Task Force last weekend warned of the scale of potential deaths.

Anthony Fauci is the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

He said the crisis could result in “millions of cases” in the US and “between 100,000 and 200,000 deaths”.

Last Saturday Trump said he was moving towards ordering an “enforceable” quarantine on the entire New York-New Jersey-Connecticut region, covering some 30 million people.

This was met with incredulity and he retreated.

Trump has also been forced to extend measures such as social distancing until at least 30 April.

He had previously suggested that they could be relaxed as early as Easter, which falls in mid-April.

Trump has suggested that surgical mask shortages in coronavirus hot spots, such as New York City, are down to hospital staff stealing them.

Reece is a US socialist who had been living in New York until the outbreak of the virus and is now staying in Vermont.

He told Socialist Worker that many people are making similar moves away from New York and other badly hit areas.

“If people are able to afford it, they are getting out of the city,” he said.

Kayla, a socialist student activist currently living in Massachusetts, told Socialist Worker how desperate the situation is getting for her and millions of others across the US.

“I reckon my parents will get basically nothing and I will get absolutely nothing because in their tax returns I’m filed as a dependent,” she told Socialist Worker.

“I have student loans I will need to start paying back after I graduate this semester. “I lost my federal work-study job as a result of being evicted from my university.”

Corporations 

But the Trump administration the government is looking after the bosses. “We could have guaranteed universal health care for every person in the US for £1.6 trillion,” said Kayla. “Yet it’s corporations that are being bailed out again.”

She added, “Healthcare workers are begging for the supplies.

“They know they’re soon going to have to start choosing who lives and who dies as ventilators run out.

Trump’s business as usual response has seen dozens of walkouts in workplaces across the US. Several hundred refuse workers in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, struck unofficially last Wednesday and are not returning to work unless bosses bring in safety measures.

US workers stage walkouts and protests over coronavirus safety
US workers stage walkouts and protests over coronavirus safety
  Read More

One worker said, “We want better equipment, protective gear—we have no masks.” Many of them are purchasing their own protective gloves and masks.

Workers have also accused the city’s sanitation department of not alerting them that one of their colleague’s partners tested positive for Covid-19.

Bus drivers in Birmingham, Alabama, refused to work without protective masks last Monday.

One the same day abattoir workers in Kathleen, Georgia, walked out to demand hazard pay.

“There are wildcat actions going on,” explained Reece. “This is the labour force realising they have power.”

Kayla and others are agitating for a rent strike on 1 April. “Millions have or are trying to file for unemployment, but most landlords are still forcing them to pay rent,” she said.

“Letters from landlords have been sent to tenants along the lines of, ‘We know you have lost your jobs but you don’t have the right not to pay rent’.”

Support for a rent strike is gaining momentum in the US.

Kayla said, “This is the first time I have seen national popular calls for a rent strike, and people openly calling to abolish landlords.

The walkouts and protests shows that workers have to power to resist bosses during the coronavirus crisis.


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