I posted a short article in which I suggested our nation should focus on developing and funding means to protect the most physically vulnerable from the coronavirus. In response to this posting, a good friend commented “…I find your post and the comments frightening.” He opined that we must flatten the curve to avoid medical catastrophe and the only way to do so is to have widespread isolation even at the short-term expense of jobs.
Implementing wide spread isolation is a Hobson’s choice: harming the most economically disadvantaged in order to save those most vulnerable to the ravages of COVID-19. My concern is with my friend’s observation that “this (wide spread isolation) is the only way.” Perhaps, and perhaps not. I cannot recall anyone putting forward a different approach to solving this problem. And, in the rush to pass relief legislation, I have not heard concern about the financial fallout that will result if the virus is not contained within the next few months.
According to a March 16 CDC website posting, since February 12, 4,226 COVID-19 cases were reported in the United States; 31% of cases, 45% of hospitalizations, 53% of ICU admissions, and 80% of deaths occurred among adults aged ≥65 years with the highest percentage of severe outcomes among persons aged ≥85 years. These numbers lead me to believe that this is the group we should focus our resources on protecting.
There must be an alternative to condemning our society’s most economically disadvantaged to a financial disaster, while at the same time protecting those most physically vulnerable to the ravages of this terrible disease. Finding an alternative solution is behind my suggestion that we focus on developing and funding ways to keep safe the demographic group most susceptible to the harmful effects of COVID-19.
While I believe we should emphasize the age group most at risk, I am not suggesting we should neglect efforts to contain the spread of the disease. On the contrary, we should continue to ban large gatherings, require reduced restaurant and event seating, continue to urge hand washing and sanitizing surfaces, and take other precautionary measures. In addition, we need to purposefully build the spirit of community and self-sacrifice that existed during other times of crisis.
If we focus our efforts on protecting the most vulnerable, we can possibly avoid the medical crisis we all fear. At the same time, If we put people back to work, we avoid plunging our country into a fiscal crisis—the effects of which could be as severe as those of the virus.