Facebook Instagram Twitter YouTube

FEMA Funds Ultra Right, Anti-LGBTQ+ Group to Build Makeshift Hospital in Central Park

The coronavirus crisis is shining a light on the many failings of the American healthcare system. One of those failings is the institutionalized bigotry of the system.

Signý A.

April 6, 2020
Facebook Twitter Share
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

A small field hospital of 68 beds across 14 tents is being set up in New York City’s Central Park, a joint project between Trump’s FEMA and an evangelical Christian group called Samaritan’s Purse. The field hospital will accept patients from Mount Sinai hospitals in the city to make room in those hospitals.

This group behind the field hospital has a decidedly anti-LGBTQ+ agenda. It is run by Franklin Graham, who has been noted by the Southern Poverty Law Center for his homophobia, transphobia, and Islamophobia. He spoke at Trump’s inauguration, and Trump then gave Samaritan’s Purse a million dollars from the Presidential Inaugural Committee funds. 

The healthcare workers operating this field hospital are volunteers who are made to sign on to a list of draconian policies, such as that marriage must be recognized only between “one genetic male and one genetic female” and that “the unrighteous are sentenced to everlasting punishment in hell.” While the Mayor’s Office has said that they expect the field hospital to follow New York City human and civil rights laws, they have said nothing about how, or if, they will enforce this. Transphobia in medical care, even in emergency care, has long been a serious problem.

Homophobia Hampering COVID Research 

One potential treatment for COVID-19 is a transfusion of blood plasma from people who have recovered from the disease, because they now have antibodies against the virus. But an old injustice is coming back to plague this potentially life-saving treatment. One man who recently recovered from COVID-19 saw an ad to donate plasma at Mount Sinai hospitals to contribute to the development of this antibody treatment. He provided a blood sample and they did indeed find high levels of antibodies against the virus in his blood.

But just hours before his New York Blood Center donation appointment, he received a call saying that they would not use his blood because he is a gay man taking PreP. PreP, pre-exposure prophylaxis, is a medicine that helps prevent HIV infection in HIV-negative people. It works for nearly everyone but is frequently used in the LGBTQ+ community. He even agreed to stop PreP for a few weeks in case it would affect the treatment somehow. But the New York Blood Center clung to the outdated and bigoted federal policy of not accepting blood donations from LGBTQ+ people — not even ones who are confirmed HIV negative.

Neoliberalism Left Us Unprepared 

Besides the clear human rights issues, the number of beds being provided by the field hospital is a drop in the bucket compared to the need. The New York State government has estimated that as many as 110,000 hospital beds will be needed, but there are just over 50,000 in the state. The only way to build that many beds in time would be for the Army Corp of Engineers to immediately begin refitting large buildings in the city into hospitals dedicated to coronavirus patients. So far the Javits Center is being outfitted with 3,000 beds and the USNS Comfort has arrived with an additional 750 beds, but the Comfort is only being used for select non-virus patients.

Over the last few decades in New York, 20,000 hospital beds were cut for the purpose of neoliberal budget balancing, instead of raising taxes on Wall Street and the large New York banks. Governor Cuomo is even now trying to cut New York’s Medicaid funding to hospitals by $400 million.

What We Can Do About It

As socialists, we would like to not have to rely on the bourgeois military, such as the Navy, the Army Corp of Engineers, and the National Guard of various states, to battle a pandemic. It is a function of public health. While healthcare workers — from doctors to hospital janitors — continue to fight heroically, they are getting nowhere near the level of support they need. In one hospital, doctors and nurses are wearing trash bags because there are not enough protective gowns. They have also been forced to reuse masks and gloves, despite the high risk of spreading infection from reusing them.

If we had a fully developed public health system democratically administered by the workers and patients, and a society that puts human beings above profit, we might already have extra hospital beds and protective equipment on standby for these awful days. Science has always known that pandemics happen, but our present society listens more to politicians and business bosses than to scientists, doctors, and engineers. We might have funded scientific research into a coronavirus vaccine after the first SARS outbreak, knowing that sooner or later another terrible coronavirus might appear.

It is now too late to plan for this pandemic. We must immediately use the entire economy — factories, freighters, laboratories, and everything else — to rush to catch up to the devastating casualties that the SARS-CoV-2 virus is inflicting on humanity.

But it’s not too late to learn from this. When this virus is finally under control, we must begin planning for the next pandemic. And there will be another one, especially as climate change gets worse. We don’t have to suffer so many deaths next time. If we seize this opportunity to make our economy and our healthcare systems work for people instead of for profit, we could have hospital capacity, medical workers, protective equipment, and testing and containment technology ready to go as soon as the next dangerous pathogen shows itself.

We know our enemies: a terrible virus and a ruling class that keeps sacrificing our lives for their profits and bigotry. We know ourselves and our comrades: brave healthcare, transit, grocery, pharmacy, and all kinds of other workers. All we have to do now is organize and fight.

Facebook Twitter Share

Gender & Sexuality

New York Times journalists and other staff protest outside the Times' office in New York on December 8 2022.

Class Struggle Solidarity and the Trans Movement (or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love My Class)

While writers at The New York Times staged a 24-hour walkout on Thursday, some trans people expressed skepticism about showing solidarity for workers at a publication that distributes so much transphobia. A trans socialist explains why queer solidarity with the labor movement is so important, even when workers might not yet be taking up our struggles.

Ezra Brain

December 11, 2022

In a Win for Reproductive Justice, Michigan Voters Reject Abortion Ban

Michigan’s Proposal 3 restores some of Roe’s protections in a mass repudiation of the undemocratic Supreme Court. This is a win for abortion rights, but the movement for reproductive justice must demand more than what Michigan had under Roe.

Lisa Youngs

November 9, 2022

The Antidote to Midterm Despair Is Socialist Feminism

Among feminists, many are driven to the polls by the attacks on reproductive rights and trans youth. But so many go to the polls reluctantly, for lack of another solution. The antidote to midterm despair is socialist feminism.

Tatiana Cozzarelli

November 8, 2022
Protesters stage a "die-in" in the lobby of the Orlando International Airport on Oct. 28, 2022

Florida Is Poised to Ban Gender-Affirming Care for Minors — We Need a Movement for Trans Lives

In the latest assault on trans youth, the Florida Board of Medicine voted to draft a rule to ban gender affirming care for anyone under the age of 18. This heinous attack must be fought back by a mass movement.

Ezra Brain

November 1, 2022

MOST RECENT

Detroit socialist activist Tristan Taylor at a protest during 2020.

First We Mourn, Then We Organize: A Letter to Weary Black Organizers Who Have Had Enough

Tyre Nichols, and all victims of police brutality, must be mourned. But we can't stop fighting or give in to despair — we have to build an independent political party that clashes with the capitalists physically, politically, and ideologically.

Tristan Taylor

January 29, 2023

In Standoff Over Cop City, Police Are the Real Terrorists

For over two years, the protests and occupations against a police training center in Atlanta, Georgia flew under the radar of the mainstream press. Now, after the police murder of land defender Manuel Teran and the arrest of 19 protesters on charges of domestic terrorism, the standoff has gained national attention. But in the battle to defend the Weelaunee Forest and the people of Atlanta from the development of the massive “Cop City” training center, it is the Atlanta Police Department and the state that have been acting like terrorists.

James Dennis Hoff

January 27, 2023

Say His Name! Justice for Tyre Nichols

As the video footage of the police murder of Tyre Nichols is released today, it will be important for everyone who is against police violence to stand in solidarity and defend and join in the mobilizations demanding justice for his murder.

Tristan Taylor

January 27, 2023

SOUTHCOM Chief Aims to Increase Imperialist Plunder of Latin America’s Resources

U.S. Southern Command Chief Laura Richardson has expressed interest in lithium and other natural resources in South America. It shows the country’s commitment to corporate profits at the expense of workers, Indigenous people, and the environment.

Luigi Morris

January 26, 2023