Photo of a hospital setting with a COVID-19 test in the foreground

The Ironic Casualty of the COVID-19 Pandemic

In Economics, Front Page, Healthcare by Allen West

I have shared with you the story of Houston/Harris County, Texas, where $60 million dollars was spent on a tent hospital facility at the NRG stadium that saw not a single patient. The plans here in Dallas to utilize the Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center as a mass hospital never came to fruition. We now know that the USNS Comfort, which had been deployed to NYC, was underutilized. Overall, here in Texas, we have seen only a 2 percent utilization of our hospitals as part of this COVID-19 issue. Today, Texas, a state of 29 million, has seen less than 700 COVID-19 related deaths…but, we do have 1.8 million Texans unemployed.

The numbers, real data, are pouring in and we should all be able to agree that there was a gross overreaction to this “pandemic.” Very reasoned minds are drawing that conclusion. Yes, one should prepare for a worst-case scenario, but when it is evident that the scenario will not play out, then one should adapt, and adjust accordingly.

One of the areas where we did not see elected officials, and others, adapt was to revise the guidance on “elective” medical procedures. Yes, someone came up with the brilliant idea that we should only have COVID-19 patients in our medical facilities, we were going to need all those bed spaces. That meant telling other sick Americans, and those needing surgical procedures, to stay at home. As well, emergency rooms have become ghost towns as many were fearful of even going to the hospital.

Because there was no adjustment, we have ironically made our healthcare system a casualty of COVID-19.

As reported in the NY Post,

“We had to destroy the hospitals to save them.

You could be forgiven for thinking that’s the upshot of the coronavirus lockdowns that have suspended elective surgeries and generally discouraged people from going to hospitals.

Many hospitals and health centers are getting pushed near, or over, the financial edge. At a time when we feared that hospitals would get overwhelmed by a surge of patients, they have been emptied out. At a time when we thought medical personnel would be at a premium, they are being idled all over the country.

We are experiencing an epidemic that bizarrely — and in part because of the choices of policy-makers — has created a surfeit of hospital beds and an excess of doctors and nurses.

That doesn’t hold true everywhere, of course. Hospitals in New York City and parts of New Jersey have been tested to their limits. But throughout much of the country, hospitals are drastically underutilized, both because states have banned elective procedures and because people have been afraid to show up.

One reason that we didn’t want hospitals to get overrun by COVID-19 patients is that we’d crowd out everyone else needing care. But we’ve ended up crowding out many people needing care as a deliberate choice — even where COVID-19 surges haven’t happened and probably never will. 

Elective surgeries are a major source of revenue for hospitals, which have taken an enormous hit as they have disappeared, often in response to state orders. West Tennessee Healthcare, based in Jackson, Tenn., lost $18 million in March after the state prohibited elective surgeries. It furloughed 1,100 out of a 7,000-person staff, according to Becker’s Hospital Review. Summit Healthcare in Arizona ­expects as much as a 50 percent drop in revenue after the Grand Canyon State’s ban on elective surgeries. Philadelphia-based Tower Health, also dealing with a 50 percent drop in revenue, furloughed 1,000 employees out of 14,000.

The examples go on and on and on. Even hospitals in New York state, an epicenter for the virus, are feeling the pinch. Catholic Health and Kaleida Health in Buffalo are furloughing workers. So is ­Mohawk Valley Health System in Utica, Cayuga Medical Center in Ithaca and Columbia Memorial Hospital.

Elective surgeries aren’t necessarily what you think. As a piece in The Atlantic pointed out, they aren’t just knee replacements. They include procedures for serious illnesses like cancer. A recent New York Times story was headlined “The Pandemic’s Hidden Victims: Sick or ­Dying, but Not From the Virus.” It led with the story of a Rutgers University professor who couldn’t get treatment for the recurrence of his blood cancer.”

How freaking funny: elected officials who are still getting a paycheck, telling the people they put out of work, 'we will decide who, and when, you can start earning a living again.' Click To Tweet

I want to share a very important maxim from the US military, “no plan survives first contact with the enemy.” Those who lose on the battlefield are those who are rigid and stay married to their original plan. They show no ability to be flexible and employ the strategy of “improvise, adapt, and overcome.” What has happened with this COVID-19 issue is that we have elected officials who relied too heavily on the erroneous computer models and incessant panic, hysteria, and paranoia declarations of some “experts” and the media, and they never reassessed the battlefield since there were those who said this was a war.

If this were a war, there are many elected officials who have failed this test of competent leadership. Why? Simple, they have created a far greater, and real, crisis than what they faced. COVID-19 is indeed a virus, and we know it is a virus with a 97-99 percent recovery rate. To put this into military vernacular, COVID-19 was a well dug-in enemy but was only a reinforced platoon-sized element, 50-70 troops strong. The government, computer models, some medical “experts,” and the media portrayed this enemy as being at corps level strength, 45,000 troops.

No one is dismissing the loss of life for 55,000 Americans, but let’s be honest, that is still below the loss of life for the 2017-2018 common flu season. We did not take all of these excessive, overblown, draconian measures resulting in the decimation of our economy, and the utter destitution of what will be 30 million unemployed Americans.

If there is one way to describe how we faced COVID-19 it is, “we have met the enemy, and it is us.”

I must marvel at how easy it was for elected officials to tell the American people you’re fired, instantaneously. But now, when it comes to rehiring Americans and reopening our economy, these same individuals are telling Americans we need to take incremental, gradual steps.

How freaking funny: elected officials who are still getting a paycheck, telling the people they put out of work, “we will decide who can start earning a living again, and when.”

FUBAR.

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LTC West is running for Chair of the Republican Party of Texas! To support his efforts, please visit his campaign website!

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