In Massachusetts, doctors are spooked, particularly at Boston’s famed hospitals. They see a tsunami coming. MGH chief Peter Slavin has called for a war footing to provide necessary medical supplies, which we need … right now.
“I hear from hospitals around the region and around our country that their supplies are low, and we need the federal government to engage in a Manhattan Project to get industry to create surgical masks, eye protection devices, gowns so that our healthcare workers can engage in this battle.
It is insane — barbaric, actually — that Congress and the Trump administration continue to dawdle in ensuring that we have enough tests and medical supplies.
Markey cited an estimate from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that health care workers nationwide could need up to 3.5 billion respirator masks to protect themselves as they evaluate and treat patients — but the Strategic National Stockpile has only about 12 million masks.
In addition, Markey is calling for an expansion of internet access for households under the E-rate program, which he created as part of the 1996 Telecom Act. This would allow kids of all economic classes to get on the internet and do schoolwork from home:
With schools across the country switching to remote learning, internet equity is more important than ever. I am calling on the FCC to allow schools to use E-Rate funds to loan Wi-Fi hotspots to students who need them. pic.twitter.com/CQjEVIgC15
— Ed Markey (@EdMarkey) March 16, 2020
Washington (March 16, 2020) – Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) today led thirteen of their colleagues in calling on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to temporarily allow schools to utilize E-Rate program funding to provide Wi-Fi hotspots or devices with Wi-Fi capability to students who lack internet access at home. This action would help ensure that all students can remotely continue their education during the current public health emergency. The coronavirus pandemic is shining a bright light on the so-called “homework gap” experienced by 12 million students in this country. The gap refers to those students who do not have internet access at home and are unable to complete their homework – at a time when more than 70 percent of educators assign schoolwork that requires the internet.
I do wish we could suspend politics while we’re dealing with a crisis. I wish that we were all on the same page. But this is a crisis, which exposes our administrative and political vulnerabilities, some of which are the result of intentional vandalism and mischief by the right wing over a generation — not just the Trump administration. This is because the public interest gets in the way of greed at all costs.*
But there are people trying to do the right thing in all walks of life. That includes public servants a.k.a. government bureaucrats; and indeed many politicians, who are genuinely trying to look out for the best interests of their constituents, whether a large number of people notice it or not. It’s their duty, and they do the best they can.
Someone is stepping up. Ed Markey is the quintessential professional, knowledgeable, and effective legislator. This is the moment for a guy who understands the policy levers of government, and how they affect and save human lives; who takes his job with utmost seriousness. A workhorse, not a showhorse.
Right now we need people who know stuff, highly trained professionals. That means doctors and nurses; epidemiologists; government officials — elected, appointed, and career-staff;
… and legislators.
Would that we had such a President.
*Public-sector professionalism is also perversely but less-consequentially under attack from the new Jacobin left, with its faux-cynical and self-spiting pose against the “professional managerial class (PMC)”, “wonks”, and “technocrats”. May this attitude never get traction.