Will the Grim Reaper get more business from the coronavirus or the shutdown?

Every additional day of the shutdown is causing horrible damage. Not only is the economy suffering with record high unemployment, soon-to-be record high bankruptcies and shuttered businesses, but also there is now and will continue to be a decline in overall health. We will see increased mortality from other causes because of the shutdown. The damage to our freedoms is widespread and immeasurable.

Point made by the author of the column linked below puts it this way:

This is not a trade-off between lives and the economy. It’s a trade-off between lives and lives.

In a series of articles over the last week I attempted, in my own feeble way, to describe the wide ranging damage we are watching grow every day.

The question our governors and mayors urgently need to consider is whether we have already passed the point at which there will be more damage (including deaths) from the shutdown than from the coronavirus.

This post will be published on several of my blogs.

Trading off lives for lives

4/17/20 – Colorado Politics – Opinion/It’s time to shift tack – and contain the virus while reopening Colorado’s economy – Author was sounding the alarm on a pending medical disaster well before others realized there was a problem. That danger is now past.

He draws the analogy to a hurricane expected to make landfall at category 5 but deteriorated to a bad thunderstorm the morning it landed. In that analogy the cat 5 which was expected to land on the entire country only hit New York, New Orleans, and Detroit.

Now that we know the horrible cat 5 storm deteriorated to a cat 1 it is time to adjust. We now know the massive death forecast isn’t going to be realized.

Now the bigger danger is devastation from the lockdown. He says it is time to open up the economy to let it recover.

He correctly points out that the US economy is driven by consumer consumption and that consumption has now stopped. A complex interconnected economy can’t restart at will because there are so many interrelated parts.

His description of the trade-off we now face:

“This is not a trade-off between lives and the economy. It’s a trade-off between lives and lives. Lives lost to CoVid-19 and lives lost to deaths and despair through depression, overdoses and suicide. We need to move beyond the policies we had in place when a larger storm was forecast. The projections have changed and now the policies need to change to match the current risk.”

It is now time, if not past time, to reduce the number of deaths which will be caused by the shutdown itself.

England is already on the negative side of the tradeoff

It looks like England has already passed that point of more deaths from the shutdown than the virus:

England has cancelled all non-essential work in its hospitals. This includes all cancer screenings and a large portion of cancer treatment.

This is expected to cause increased deaths over the next five years. The phrase is ‘avoidable deaths.’  The health secretary won’t say the count of avoidable deaths from skipped or postponed medical treatment, but there are reports he has told the cabinet to expect up to 150,000.

Tally of deaths from coronavirus in England is 19,506 as of this morning. We all agree that is terrible.

What label do we then apply to the current estimate of 150,000 avoidable deaths? Both numbers will grow.

As of today that is a 7.7:1 tradeoff of avoidable deaths to the shutdown versus current deaths from COVID-19.

Check out my recent posts:

Time to open

Deterioration of health

Economic damage

Damage to freedom



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