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

Allegory of where US economy is now and where public health is headed. COD Hosts Mass Casualty Incident Simulation 2016 81 by COD Newsroom is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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

This is second of two posts describing recent articles. Part 1 here. This will be posted on several of my blogs.

5/11/20 – Wall Street Journal – Medical Lockdown Will Cause a Disease Surge – Two practicing MDs point out that lots of people have not sought treatment during the pandemic for initial signs of some other form of illness. There will be a surge of people visiting doctors after the lockdown ends. Six or eight weeks of delay will not be an issue for many people but for others it will make their illness far worse and for some, unrecoverable.

Authors cite one study indicating new cancer diagnoses are probably down 30% in the last month. The rate of cancer has not dropped. Instead, people with cancer have not gone to the doctor, have not been diagnosed, and the cancer has an extra two months to grow.

5/4/20 – Just Fax – Anxiety From Reaction COVID-19 Will Destroy At Least Seven Times More Years of Life Than Can Be Saved by Lockdowns – One of the ways researchers quantify the severity of a disease is to calculate the number of years of life lost. Calculate the time a person died before they would otherwise have done so except for this particular disease and you have the years of life lost.

An illness that kills a large number of people in their 80s or 90s could result in the same total years of life lost as a different illness that kills a moderate number of people in their 40s. Those two hypothetical illnesses could have the same magnitude as another illness that kills a small number of elementary age children.

Analysis in the article calculates the years of life lost from likely COVID-19 deaths that have been avoided.

There are second-order effects from the shutdown and economic destruction. Poverty, anxiety, despair, substance abuse, domestic abuse, child abuse, and suicides are all expected to increase as a result of the economic damage and isolation.

Article works through the process to quantify the years of life lost from the increased anxiety and stress caused by the isolation and fear.

If you’re curious for a good explanation instead of my bumbling summary, check out the article to see the conclusion that there will be far more years of life lost from the shutdown than from the disease itself.

5/8/20 – Wall Street Journal – The Economic Lockdown Catastrophe – That the curve has been smoothed is proved by hospitals in New York City having lots of open beds – 21% of ICU beds and 26% of all beds are empty.

We are not looking at a trade-off of lives for jobs. Instead we’re looking at a trade-off of lives for lives. How many people will suffer and how many will die because of the shutdown?

In addition to many other superb points, editorial points out millions of people sank into poverty during the Great Depression and there was a large number of suicides. Article uses the exact phrase that the Great Depression “…caused many suicides…”

Two superb points. We need to remember

“…strict lockdowns were a government policy choice”

Best explanation of why we need an open economy to maintain public health:

“…public health can’t be sustained without a healthy economy”

If people aren’t employed and there aren’t companies making money then the individuals and companies will not be able to afford health insurance. If there are no jobs there will be no health insurance.

We have, or at least before the shutdown had, a wonderful healthcare system. It takes a lot of money to keep that system running. If the economy craters public health will too.

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