The United States is in a mass casualty incident because of the lockdown. Damage to public health will get worse. Part 1 of 2.

Disaster exercise In Tel Aviv on November 11, 2010. Allegory to where the US public health will be in near term. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The continuing lockdown is directly leading to a decline in public health. Large volume of articles for many weeks now have been pointing this out.

This is first of two posts describing just a sampling of recent articles. This will be posted on several of my blogs.

5/19/20 – A Doctor a Day letter-signed; letter to Pres. Trump signed by over 500 doctors – You can read the letter yourself at the link.

A mass casualty incident is currently underway in the United States.

Letter explains the assessment protocol in a catastrophe:

“During a mass casualty incident, victims are immediately triaged to black, red, yellow, or green. The first group, triage level black, includes those who require too many resources to save during a mass crisis. The red group has severe injuries that are survivable with treatment, the yellow group has serious injuries that are not immediately life threatening, and the green group has minor injuries.”

Goal of medical providers during such a catastrophe is to focus treatment on the red group while making sure the yellow and green groups do not deteriorate a level.

Assessment by the doctors of where we are in the United States?

Red – millions of Americans are currently at triage level red. There are normally 150,000 Americans who are given a cancer assessment each month.

We now have two months of no testing which means there are over 300,000 Americans who have detectable cancer, don’t know it, and have not started any treatment. An unknown but calculable number of those will die because of the lack of testing during the shutdown.

Yellow – tens of millions are in yellow. The sales of booze have increased by factor of three or six, cigarette sales are up, and family relationships are deteriorating.

Green – hundreds of millions have minor injuries which could get worse. These people are in danger of their financial health deteriorating and sliding toward or sinking into poverty. From other articles, it is obvious that many people are at risk of eviction from their apartment sometime in the next few months.

Millions in red. Tens of millions in yellow. Hundreds of millions in green.

A continued lockdown puts millions and millions of people at risk of sliding down one level and will worsen the condition of millions of others who are already at red.

Two illustrations of actual situations show the damage governors are compounding:

“Patient E.S. is a mother with two children whose office job was reduced to part-time and whose husband was furloughed. The father is drinking more, the mother is depressed and not managing her diabetes well, and the children are barely doing any schoolwork.

“Patient R.T. is an elderly nursing home patient, who had a small stroke in early March but was expected to make a nearly complete recovery. Since the shutdown, he has had no physical or speech therapy, and no visitors. He has lost weight, and is deteriorating rather than making progress.”

I’m not a counselor or doctor but even I can see that E.S. and her entire family is headed for disaster. From how many different directions can you see tragedy hitting that family?

I’ll make a guess that R.T. will never recover from his stroke. He is in severe danger of slipping into failure to thrive and there is a very upsetting chance he will die. Because of the lockdown.

None of that damage (which is currently being compounded by the unnecessarily prolonged lockdown carried out by intentional decision of a large number of governors) will ever get counted as the cost of the lockdown.

The letters’ conclusion:

“The millions of casualties of a continued shutdown will be hiding in plain sight, but they will be called alcoholism, homelessness, suicide, heart attack, stroke, or kidney failure. In youth it will be called financial instability, unemployment, despair, drug addiction, unplanned pregnancies, poverty, and abuse.”

Those casualties won’t be credited to the governors and public health officials who are prolonging the disaster. Instead they will just disappear into statistics that only epidemiologists and researchers will ever see and understand.

5/11/20 – Los Angeles Times – The economic devastation wrought by the pandemic could ultimately kill more people than the virus itself (even the L.A. Times is noticing!) – The lockdown and social distancing imposed to deal with the pandemic is increasing the unemployment rate in the United States and leading to be far behind on their rent.

In poor parts of the world the lockdown is leading to people not having enough money to buy food to feed their family. Really poor farmers, say in Mexico as cited in the article, now do not have money to buy seeds or fertilizer so they will not be able to even plant enough food to feed themselves, let alone have something to sell.

Famine is on the distant horizon in many places around the world.

Governors in the United States need to get their state’s economies moving again, not just for the physical, mental, and financial health of their citizens. We urgently need to:

  • keep our food production from falling (so we can continue feeding the world),
  • get working-class people in this country back to work (so they not only care for themselves but also can send money back to families in their home countries so the families can eat), and
  • get back to where compassionate citizens have enough discretionary income so they can continue giving to charity (so the charities can continue feeding poor people and developing communities around the world)

The many states and counties dragging their feet because they want to keep the economy on lockdown for another month or three are going to make this disaster even worse.

Part 2.

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