At a recent daily briefing, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo offered reporters a reprise of his “even if it saves a single life” speech. He talks about all of the costs of staying closed and the costs of reopening quickly. He jumps quickly to the question of how much a human life is worth and that the government literally determines how many people live and how many people die. I think it’s time for a certain Governor to get a reality check…
According to The Toronto Star, the Ontario Independent Financial Accountability Office has calculated that more than 50,000 operations and treatments of all types were postponed after hospitals were cleared for COVID-19. Because of that, thousands of surgeries and procedures were delayed. With respect to cardiac deaths, it has been estimated by Health Minister Christine Elliot that approximately 35 people may have passed away because their surgeries were not performed in hospitals that were cleared out for coronavirus. Hospitals were kept empty for when the surge of patients with coronavirus would come stampeding through, but those “predicted numbers” never happened.
“We feel for those families who have lost family members whether it has been from cancer deaths or cardiac deaths or a COVID-19 death, but these were decisions that we had to make. That’s not something any of us want to hear. It certainly was not intended. Any death is a tragedy. Decisions on delayed treatments were made by a team of doctors and other medical professionals as per pandemic plans written years ago.” Christine Elliot said.
If one small health network estimated 35 cardiac patients dying because of delayed life-saving surgeries, how many more have died because of delayed procedures for cancer or neurological patients?
Toronto, for example, is one city in one province of Canada, with a population of approximately 37.6 million people. The U.S is roughly nine times the size, so consider the number of people whose healthcare has been compromised due to COVID-19.
Many of the health professionals whose area of expertise falls outside the specialty of infectious diseases have been furloughed. Every week the lockdown continues, more businesses fall on the path of those that won’t reopen, and more people who won’t have a job to return to. This can translate into suicide, divorce, mental instability, and financial ruin to thousands.
So yes, Governor, you can put a price on human life. If there were no limit we would shut down the economy every year from 12/15-3/15 during the seasonal flu. At a certain point Americans reach their limit. Those who are at risk should continue to quarantine while the other 90% of us get back to work and the business of living.