“A teenage boy dies in America”

By Raoul Lowery Contreras

Schools are closed nationally. Stay home orders have been issued by many governors. Businesses have been ordered closed if they are not “essential.” A panicky, obviously frightened state governor in Rhode Island has ordered her National Guard soldiers to detect any people from Coronavirus “hot spot” New York state and city that have surreptitiously entered her precious tiny state of Rhode Island.
U.S. Navy ships are being restricted including the 5,000 crew U.S. S. Teddy Roosevelt because clusters of the virus have developed on the ships.
Everyday the numbers of sick people grow as the number of people tested for virus infections grows everyday, the number of dead grows. The virus is killing old people, people over 65, we are told. But, everyday we hear stories of young people dying, too, including children.
What we haven’t heard, who is dying. Are Blacks dying? Are Hispanics? Asians? Are more women dying than men or more men than women? Are dying Americans urban, suburban or rural? So far the only demographic we know is that old people are dying.
What’s going on, on Indian Reservations?
If this was Italy, most, if not all, the dead would be white men and women; in Spain most dead would be white men and women with a touch of African, but the dead would look like most Spaniards.
But here in the U.S. we have a hugely diverse population that is getting older everyday, is only about 60 percent non-Hispanic white, has a growing Hispanic population that is much younger than the country and is proportionately lacking in medical insurance coverage.
That spells potential mass illness and death for Hispanics.
Oh yes, medical insurance. The U.S. Congress passed a two-plus trillion dollar package which includes funding for individual tests and care of people who are infected with the virus and, we are promised, will suffer less.
So why did a teenage boy die in Lancaster, California, the other day? He entered a private urgent care center complaining of all the symptoms of coronavirus. They refused to treat him because he didn’t have insurance; they sent him to the Antelope Valley hospital for treatment.
He died shortly after he arrived from the Urgent Care center.
Other than being a teenage boy, I know nothing about him except he tried to get treated for an illness that is killing people everywhere in the U.S. and the urgent care center turned him down and sent him away because he didn’t have insurance. He couldn’t pay.
What a stupid reason. If he had stumbled into a hospital emergency room he would have been treated and might — probably would — have survived. Federal law requires emergency treatment by emergency rooms to treat anyone who walks in.
Governors are ordering doctors and hospitals to stop performing elective surgeries including abortions of babies (for the Planned Parenthood folks that’s not called abortions; that’s called the most important thing in the world), but they aren’t ordering all clinics or urgent care centers to save lives.
Remember the part of the Dr. Strangelove movie when the movie’s hero (Peter Sellers) is trying to make a phone call, a call that can save the world from nuclear destruction but he has no coins for a pay phone? He tries to get some from a soft drink machine but he is stopped by a professional bureaucratic Army officer who declares the machine to be private property, property of the Coca Cola Company. It cannot be violated for emergency coins because it’s private property.
The urgent care center that turned a sick boy away because he didn’t have insurance is private. The Congress of the United States just voted to pay for tests for coronavirus and to pay for critical treatment equipment needed to fight off the pandemic. State legislatures will soon follow and/or can pass laws putting such treatment under state Medicaid.
Maybe they should vote to pay for emergency treatment for people who try to get life-saving emergency treatment at private facilities, people who don’t have insurance. Congress people have insurance. I have insurance and most readers have insurance.
One teenage boy (White, Black, Hispanic or Asian, it makes no difference) didn’t have insurance and instead of being easily treated for a few dollars, he was turned away — he died. That should not be.