While it is extremely important for people not to worry and panic as the Coronavirus spreads (four non-travel-related cases were reported in the United States on February 28,) it is important to note (as discussed on some media outlets like Overtime with Bill Maher) that the United States because it lacks both a national universal access to health care and a paid family leave programs, maybe at a disadvantage when patients will need to pay their unpaid medical bills at the Emergency Room and others will not be able to cover simple household expenses because they had to take unpaid time off work.
Local, State, and the National Government officials should immediately band together (as they are now to meet the needs to combat the coronavirus) and formulate a strategy to pay for the exploding medical costs people without insurance will not be able to pay and some sort of one time-stipend to compensate qualifying individuals who had to miss work because of the illness or if a quarantine is imposed.
This will be a necessary step to help people in their time of need and mitigate both the short and long term adverse effects on local, state, and national economies. It will also, more importantly, help reduce the spread of the virus, help speed up the recovery of those infected, and save lives.
The time to take proactive steps on this is now.
The time to discuss expanding Universal access to health care and implementing paid family leave should come after the Coronavirus spread has been addressed.