COVID-19: Government's Bad Choices and the Impact on Doctors
Private physicians' offices across the country have had to furlough core staff, often with decades of service to their businesses, because of the coronavirus-induced, government-mandated shutdown. Doctors who own these small business ventures, many of whom were on the front lines in the battle against AIDS back when it was 100% lethal, have been forced to sit on their hands at home for this pandemic. Surgery centers, frequently the lifeline between economic solvency and bankruptcy for both private surgeons and hospitals, are lying dormant, their fixed costs still accruing.
Promised federal bailout money is not going to come close to repairing the long-term damage done by this medieval "fix" recommended by "the scientific experts." Those advising our leaders have provided a great excuse for the forces seeking to justify government-run health care and expand the power of an unchecked, totalitarian federal bureaucracy. Medical practices, like many small businesses across the country, are being killed off for the cause of "saving just one more life." What they have done is unconscionable, poorly justified, and quite frankly, un-American.
History will not be kind to the CDC when the dust settles from this crisis. The Communicable Disease Center exists to help us with situations just like COVID-19, pandemics being its purview. It could be argued that having the nation prepared with accurate means of testing for novel viruses and being equipped with an adequate number of masks and ventilators would be an obvious first purpose for the agency. Yet in the past couple of years, the agency has spent well over a billion and a half dollars for things like chronic disease prevention, health promotion, environmental health, and injury prevention.
While many would ask, "What is wrong with studying these important issues?," there are existing agencies in the federal government that already have allotted money to investigate these problems. The CDC is seen to have lost its focus. The agency did not get in front of COVID-19 in such a way that would be expected in the twenty-first century, its primary recommendation being that we distance ourselves from each other. Even more damagingly, quarantining at home for months at a time delays "herd immunity," weakens the immune system, and increases other medical problems such as obesity, alcoholism, and depression. It may also just postpone our exposure to COVID-19 until later this year.
The CDC should have used the money spent on inappropriate and duplicative studies to re-stock masks and ventilators that had been used up in the 2009 H1N1 "Swine Flu" pandemic. Or it could have prepared a forward-looking means by which it could test for a novel virus and make it available for quick distribution to the States. While it is the responsibility of each state and not really the federal government to have an adequate supply of ventilators, the CDC knew of each state's shortfalls ahead of time and could have made allowances.
Completely paralyzing the economy, forcing possibly 35–40 million people out of work, and printing many trillions of dollars that we don't really have is a boneheaded way to deal with a pandemic. Politicians using law enforcement to keep us off beaches and out of parks and not allowing people with second homes away from the city to travel are just plain wrong. Governor Cuomo of New York said something like "if it just saves one life," we should be shutting down the economy "as long as it takes." In addition to being stunning that a late-term abortion proponent such as the governor could utter those words, Cuomo's declaration shows a profound lack of common sense, connection with reality, and economic knowledge. It is an idea that is not suited to the year 2020.
We average 35,000 deaths in the United States from influenza yearly, with some outliers like the winter of 2017–18, in which over 60,000 deaths were recorded. In the medical community, pneumonia is darkly referred to as "the old people's friend," as it often kills the elderly and frail. It is a fact of life. We cannot shut down the world for each virus, "novel" or not.
Looking back, it is obvious that we should have been prepared with accurate and adequate testing for the virus, quarantined the sick, protected the elderly, and allowed America to work. It is interesting that if we weren't having such a great economy pre-virus, we may never have thought this disastrous option was feasible. We "flattened the curve" of the viral impact on America, swapping it for a whole lot of financial trouble. In addition, we are allowing a corruptible, inefficient government to administrate this calamity, a government that is ill prepared for the billions of dollars of fraud that will ensue.
The future of small businesses, especially doctors' practices that have managed to stay somewhat independent, is threatened by this quarantine. As with all big-government interventions, big business and friends of the bureaucracy will ultimately do well. Small business, the greatest employer and lifeblood of America, will suffer. Many doctors will give up and join hospital corporations. Many will take early retirement. Those who do reopen will have had to suffer many hardships. One predictable outcome is that doctors who are hoping to re-open their small businesses are finding that many of their former employees are all too happy to remain on the current generous unemployment option afforded by the bailout.
As a final thought, what would Dr. Fauci have recommended if he had the power he wields today and the AIDS epidemic was just starting? Would he be quarantining homosexuals and IV drug abusers? Would the left and the media be on board? Would he be judged as barbarous and ridiculous? Would doctors be asked to not go to work?