I was sitting in my office last Thursday and I had just finished reading a news story about how some states are beginning to ration health care – in other words, making choices about who dies and who doesn’t – because they are so overrun with cases of COVID-19, when I was immediately teased with a related story about people who are putting hydrogen peroxide in their nebulizers and calling it a way to treat COVID-19.
Last week I know I talked about finding some common ground between those who take conventional routes to dealing with this pandemic and those who don’t, but those who don’t are not making it easy.
The two states mentioned in the Washington Post article that had implemented crises standard of care policies were Alaska and Idaho.
Let’s do a thought experiment.
Let’s say you have an elderly parent. They catch COVID, but when you take them to the hospital they get turned away because they have a co-morbidity and someone who has more life to live ahead of them is given priority.
Think about that conversation with the doctor who tells you. Think about that conversation with your parent. Think about the conversation you’re going to have with your kids on why granddad won’t be around for Christmas.
That is terrifying. And while it might be hypothetical for us, at the moment, that’s a real situation people elsewhere in the United States are going to have to deal with.
The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare issued a press release that outlined exactly what “Crisis Standard of Care” meant. In that press release Dave Jeppesen, the IDHW director, said this: “Our hospitals and health care systems need our help. The best way to end crisis standards of care is for more people to get vaccinated. It dramatically reduces your chances of having to go to the hospital if you do get sick from COVID-19. In addition, please wear a mask indoors in public and outdoors when it’s crowded to help slow the spread. The situation is dire – we don’t have enough resources to adequately treat the patients in our hospitals, whether you are there for COVID-19 or a heart attack or because of a car accident.”
That means you can expand that hypothetical a little more. What if you don’t show up to a hospital with COVID, but instead you or your loved is rushed there because they had a stroke or heart attack? Imagine pulling up to the ER and rushing to help your loved one out of the car, only for someone to come out and say “Sorry, we’re full.”
Those situations are hard for some people to imagine, and they get quickly dismissed, but the probability of them taking place continues to rise.
We are at a point now where everyone has to be willing to do something, if we’re ever going to get to the other side of this.
For example, if you’re not willing to get a shot, what are you willing to do to slow the spread of COVID-19. How about wearing a mask?
If you don’t want to wear a mask, fine, what about limiting your interactions out in public?
How about anything? Covering your mouth when you cough, maybe? Staying home when you’re sick?
I know there are some people who aren’t willing to do anything, but I’m not ready to give up on my belief that there are more people out there willing to do something, than there are willing to do nothing.
People are deeply divided right now, and the only hope is to start chipping away at that divide, because if we don’t, COVID will probably do it for us.
The virus has killed almost 14,000 people in Alabama and 680,000 in the U.S. and those numbers are only going up.