Now that we all have been effected by the coronavirus, we are entering uncharted territory.
Hawaii has gone from the lowest unemployment rates in Hawaii history to the highest literally over night eclipsing the great depression. Tens of thousands of people were laid off last week. Our governments are scrambling to get aid to citizens effected.
Unemployment and mortgage supplements are top priorities that I have heard on the news as well as cash benefits that are being considered.
On thing that I have not heard being discussed is health insurance assistance. At our meetings informing my coworkers of the layoffs, options were discussed as to where do we go from here. One topic at the top of the discussions was about what is going to happen to our health insurance, which is negotiated by our labor union. It was made clear that we are in jeopardy of loosing our benefits. This crisis is being caused by a health issue and now we may not have insurance coverage if we become infected.
Past political campaigns have had universal health care as a hot issue. So I ask, where is this health care plan that we were promised that “would be so much better than anything anyone has ever seen?”
Stop the spread to survive
Here are the numbers. I appreciate Sunday’s letter about letting everyone just get the virus to stop it. But, we have about 200,000 residents. If 20% serious illness is about average for the virus so far of those having it, that’s 40,000 with maybe 20,000 needing the intensive care unit (ICU) if we all catch it within a month.
Spread over six months, that’s about 30,000 cases a month with about 6,000 serious illnesses and perhaps 3,000 needing ICU care a month. Much better, but we still have only a couple dozen ICU beds on the entire island. We need to stop the spread to have a chance to survive, not let it run its course until we all catch it. The only real answer is a vaccine but that is at least a year away. So, there is a reason for the closures and quarantines. If we all catch it, a 2% mortality rate means 4,000 deaths on the island.