Tuesday, July 21, 2020

How Covid-19 In South Texas Underscores Republican Apathy for Latino Families

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In the Twitter universe, accusations can be made that can never be properly substantiated. With that in mind, I wanted to share a series of tweets from a nurse in Texas, where medical professionals are struggling with the Covid-19 outbreak.

Serving the lower Rio Grande Valley, Doctor’s Hospital Renaissance (DHR Health) is a 500+ bed general acute care hospital, with a medical staff of over 700 physicians covering 75 specialties, based in Edinburg, Texas. In order to deal with the pandemic, a special facility was contracted and converted from a hospice facility into a Covid unit.

Unfortunately, according to this whistleblower, it soon became apparent that the facility was completely inadequate. Medical staff from outside of the area were appalled at the situation.

According to this report,
Patients in abhorrent conditions. Patients placed in cramped rooms without adequate ventilation or air conditioning and full of medical equipment. Oxygen in the facility stopped working on July 5th, staff has been forced to using portable tanks for patients.
An anonymous nurse states:

She continues:

 If these reports are true, the situation is nightmarish.

Furthermore, nurses claim that hospital officials have warned staff against giving statements to the news media about conditions at the hospital. A memo to the staff states that "anyone found out speaking with media will result in immediate demobilization and termination."

The Hidden Factor

Earlier this month, the Texas Tribune investigated these reports and found a facility on the verge of collapse.
The Rio Grande Valley has seen a surge in coronavirus cases, and the patients arrive daily. At least 10 were brought here from the emergency room Wednesday. More than a dozen the day before that. Some nurses tend to three patients each, instead of the usual two, and pick up extra hours. A lead nurse who clocked in at 6:45 a.m. Tuesday was still working past 10:30 p.m. Another, on her fourth 12-hour shift, said she’d seen things she will “never unsee.”
It is impossible to ignore the fact that the communities of the Rio Grande Valley are predominantly poor Hispanic. More than a third of families live in poverty. It has a median household income of around $34,000 and a large number of residents with comorbidities that can make them more susceptible to becoming severely ill with the coronavirus.

As the Tribune points out:
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that Hispanics are hospitalized for the coronavirus at about four times the rate of white people and cited “long-standing systemic health and social inequities.”
An article in the New York Times observed:
Up to half of residents have no health insurance, including at least 100,000 undocumented people, who often rely on under-resourced community clinics or emergency rooms for care.
In a sinister way, this particular virus has found its ideal target.
Tick off the list of risk factors for developing severe complications from the virus and you will have described this margin of the country: More than 60 percent of residents are diabetic or prediabetic. The rates of obesity and heart disease are among the nation’s highest. More than 90 percent of the population is Latino, a group that is dying from the virus at higher rates than white Americans are.
To make matters worse, a provision of the $2 trillion CARES Act, the economic relief package signed into law on March 27, ensures that
a significant portion of the populations of Brownsville, the Rio Grande Valley and Texas are unlikely to receive any financial assistance through the CARES Act — even residents who pay federal taxes.

To put it simply, anti-immigrant Republicans in Washington created a neat little loophole in the safety net.

"It's All Over"

The region is represented by Ted Cruz and John Cornyn in the United States Senate. Sen. John Cornyn earned the title of "Obamacare repeal’s top salesman," recently reversed himself, encouraging Americans who have lost health care coverage during the pandemic to sign up for the Affordable Care Act.
Perhaps Cornyn's sudden about-face isn't that hard to explain. According to one recent survey, the incumbent Senator is facing a difficult re-election in 2020. Cornyn’s job approval rating at 37 percent, down from 41 percent in September. That's the price Cornyn must pay for tying his political fate so directly to President Trump’s policies. 
“Cornyn has outlived his usefulness in my view to the constituency he represents. He now is representing such a small, narrow slice -- the Trump base -- that he no longer reflects what’s going on in this community and across the country.”
For his part, Senator Cruz has also fought hard to destroy Obamacare, famously launching all-night talk-a-thon on the need to defund affordable health care.  
Despite the dire situation facing his own constituents in the midst of Covid-19, Ted Cruz apparently has his own priorities. He is currently waging his own partisan battle on Twitter against the so-called "lunatic Left" which is "tearing down America." He also warns his followers that "it's all over" if  Democrats win Texas to in 2020.
"Texas is the single biggest target for the left in 2020, politically speaking. There are 38 electoral votes at stake. There's a U.S. Senate seat at stake. And Texas is the key to national domination for years to come."
Cruz added:
"And make no mistake, the Democrats and the liberal media, they're doing everything they can to take Texas."
In all of Senator Cruz's other tweets, there is not a mention of the healthcare crisis in Texas. Not a word of advice to his voters about social distancing and masks. No whisper of Trump's recent rush to end Obamacare upon which the poor Latino families in his district rely.
Of course, there's no comment of ants on dying patients.

Not even the usual thoughts and prayers.