Helen Raleigh: In coronavirus outbreak, America needs billionaires, corporations' contributions, too

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Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., may be close to ending his presidential campaign, but his socialist ideas and rhetoric have successfully persuaded some Americans to point the finger at "greedy" billionaires and corporations as the root of all their problems.

In fact, Sanders went so far as to claim that billionaires shouldn't exist. He has also blamed the "greed" of corporations for risking "the public health of our community."

In reality, our country's billionaires and corporations have stepped up to provide solutions that ensure the protection and well-being of American people.


The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Mastercard's Impact Fund and the British philanthropy Wellcome Trust jointly announced that they will commit $125 million to develop a COVID-19 therapeutics accelerator, hoping to "speed-up the response to the COVID-19 epidemic by identifying, assessing, developing, and scaling-up treatments."

In particular, the Gates Foundation has had a tremendous amount of experience in leading global health efforts. Since its founding, it has demonstrated a successful track record of coordinating with government agencies while providing leadership and resources in the global fight against diseases such as malaria, polio, tuberculosis, and HIV.  The foundation retains the efficiency, expertise, discipline, and accountability that is often lacking in government.

Moreover, Bill Gates was one of the few people who recognized the serious threat the coronavirus posed early on. He called the coronavirus a "pandemic" in February. The World Health Organization waited until March to make the same call.


Furthermore, the Gates Foundation committed to developing and offering coronavirus home test kits for the Seattle area, one of the hardest-hit regions of the outbreak in the U.S.

The test kits would enable users to conduct nose swabs at home and send samples back for testing, and allow test results to be available within just two days. Local health officials would be notified when users test positive.

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This advancement would be of colossal aid in at least two ways. First, an easy-to-use home test kit would calm a lot of minds, which means not everyone would have to rush to the hospital to get tested. That would alleviate crowding at medical facilities, and it would reduce mass panic.

Secondly, the test would make it easier for local health departments to track the spread of the disease, efficiently isolate those who are infected, and offer timely medical treatment and minimize community infection.

According to reports, Amazon Care, a virtual medical clinic made for Amazon employees, is partnering with the Gates Foundation in an effort to deliver home test kits to Seattle residents. If these home test kits are successful, their usage and distribution could expand nationwide, perhaps even worldwide. Many lives would be saved.

Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos are both billionaires -- the kind Sanders routinely demeans. While these so-called no-good, power-hungry, heartless, villainized billionaires and their organizations are in fact actively taking meaningful measures to fight the pandemic, give back to their communities and take care of the American people, Sanders has offered zero assistance, other than demanding that test kits be made free for all. His response is true to the motto, "Capitalism creates, socialism takes."

Sanders also claims that the reason our nation does not have mandated paid leave for everyone is due to, you guessed it, greedy corporations. While the effectiveness of a mandated paid leave in the fight against a pandemic is debatable, Sanders’ accusations against American corporations simply do not hold true, and are quite irresponsible.

Many American corporations have implemented policies to take care of their employees and communities in this time of need. From Apple to Google, companies have encouraged their employees to work from home where possible.

Microsoft and Amazon both announced that they would continue to pay hourly workers, even if their hours are reduced.

Apple is offering additional paid sick leave to retail workers who display symptoms consistent with COVID-19. Walmart and Sam's Club will give employees who are quarantined up to two weeks of pay.

Hourly employees of Darden Restaurant now will get paid during their sick leave at a rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked. Uber drivers will get up to 14 days paid leave if they're diagnosed with COVID-19 or if they are quarantined by health authorities. Lyft has a similar policy in place.

American companies are going through a difficult time as well, due to the cancellation of travel and events and massive disruptions in supply chains. These companies should act responsibly to ensure their survival so that when the outbreak is over, their employees will still have jobs and be able to provide for their families.

Other than advocating for taking other people's wealth for centralized redistribution, socialists like Sanders have failed to come up with few workable solutions to care for the American people and fight against the pandemic.


One of the lessons we should take away from this crisis is that billionaires and corporations can also play a positive role in Americans' lives, now more than ever.

Trust actions, not empty promises.