Is Capitalism Killing the COVID Response?

Electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2—also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus that causes COVID-19. Credit: – NIAID

Three months in, are labs are holding up testing for more profit?

Its been three months since the first case of COVID-19 was reported in the United States. Right now, we’re a little more than a month since the President declared a State of Emergency.

In that time we’ve seen hundreds of thousands of cases, tens of thousands of deaths, and a host of logistical challenges for those who are treating those stricken with the disease.

Since the beginning, the response from the Federal Government has been clumsy, to be kind. The CDC botched the initial test roll out, though the Director of the CDC Robert Redfield describes it differently.

Either way, the whole testing regime, which is one of the big things we need to really ramp up to get the world back to some semblance of normalcy, is dragging ass.

At the daily propaganda parade, the President was asked what it will take to get the testing numbers up. He deferred to Dr. Brix. That exchange is below.

Excerpt from the US Dept. of State YouTube account beginning at 3:12:00

Private labs not getting paid enough is what’s slowing down testing? Did I hear that right?

$50 more a test is the difference between broken testing and working testing ?

Surely, that can’t be so. But apparently it is. Making money off a economy shattering, life threatening, deadly pandemic is also why the US didn’t adopt the free WHO test.

You can’t make money off that one.

Other examples of profiteering

The pandemic response gouging comes from all directions. PPE, personal protective equipment, like masks, gloves and gowns, have been in short supply since the start of cases in the US.

Governors have complained they were competing against federal agencies for PPE and other necessary equipment. And all of that is, apparently, giving people license to price gouge.

Case in point: St. Francis Hospital, right here in Memphis, is planning to furlough 250 people because:

  1. Shutting down elective outpatient surgeries is cutting into their bottom line.
  2. Folks are charging them $5 for a mask that used to be 45 cents.

What the fuck is wrong with these people?

Profit is what’s killing us.

Corona virus is diagnosed in thousands a day, but profit is more important.

Profit. For a few tens of labs nationwide is why we don’t have the capacity to process 1m tests a week.

$50 a test: is the difference between knowing where we stand in this fight for our lives and the perpetual limbo of not really knowing just how deep and wide the pandemic is on a local, state, and national level.

How many people have died for because the labs weren’t making enough profit? How many have gone untreated and infected others because labs didn’t want to hire another tech to run the equipment that’s otherwise sitting idle?

How many lives have been shattered because our healthcare industry puts making a profit over saving lives?

How much sooner could we have known what was going on if, rather than fuss over $50 a test, labs stepped up to the plate and did the honorable thing, the patriotic thing, and ramped up those machines to stop a pandemic.

Me and about 100m people have been sitting at home, socially isolating, putting our lives and our careers on hold for the common good. But some medical testing lab CEO won’t turn the machines on without another 50 bucks?

Negotiate this…

Where’s the guy who said he could negotiate anything? that we would get the best deals under his leadership? (even though experts say he sucks at it)

Why hasn’t there been any reporting about this?

Why did it take me accidentally finding a tweet to alert me to this?

This is bullshit. At best, its a stirring indictment of our pay for play healthcare system. At worst, these people have not only put profit over people, they’ve likely broken their oaths as healthcare professionals.

Sure the world runs on money, but there ain’t no money if no one’s there to spend it.

Of course, nothing will happen to these price gougers, these profiteers. The Wall Street scions who tanked the economy in 2008 didn’t get held accountable. These CEO’s counting their blood money likely won’t either.

Jail or no jail, what’s happening here is criminal.

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