The health care bottleneck

Nathanael Blake argues in a Federalist column that the economy was never going to survive the COVID-19 pandemic unscathed.

Keeping the economy humming along like normal was never an option. Even without government intervention, much of our society would eventually shut down on its own. No doubt some business owners would try to carry on, but many of their customers would stay away as the pandemic worsened. The economy was in trouble as soon as the Chinese plague got here, because people will not carry on as usual just to save the economy.

We should also blame China for this damage. The Chinese government’s delay and dishonesty ensured that the disease spread to the rest of the world, and now we are all paying the price. …

… The immediate point of potential catastrophe is the health-care system. As we have seen, particularly in Italy, if too many people are infected at a time, hospitals will not be able to keep up. Coronavirus patients who might have survived with proper care will die as the medical system is stretched beyond capacity and heartbreaking decisions are made about who gets lifesaving care.

This problem is exacerbated by medical staff’s vulnerability to the virus. Unlike the seasonal flu that many have compared this to, there is no coronavirus vaccine to protect doctors and nurses from becoming infected and ending up as patients themselves, which would make the health-care system even more unstable.

Furthermore, a medical system overwhelmed by coronavirus will also struggle to care for other patients. From cancer sufferers to stroke victims to expectant mothers needing an emergency C-section, many more will be harmed if our hospitals, doctors, and nurses are pushed beyond their limits.

If unaddressed, this medical crisis would become a social, economic and political crisis.

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...

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