Major Red Flag of Lockdown: Paradoxical Financial Peril to R.I. Healthcare System


Happy Easter to everyone.  I sincerely apologize for posting this on a joyous religious holiday.  I do so because we are out of time to  dispassionately examine and act on the ramifications of the onerous COVID-19 lockdown.

Here’s a big one.  On Thursday, Fitch Ratings placed fifteen hospitals and healthcare systems around the country on a Negative Rating Watch explicitly because of COVID-19.  Alarmingly, Rhode Island holds not one but two spots on this short list: Lifespan and Care New England.

The Rating Watch reflects those ratings with the greatest risk of transition under the current coronavirus pandemic as reimbursement and overall expenses are expected to be significantly disrupted over the short term. The margin pressure is primarily due to the loss of revenue from elective medical and surgical volumes, resulting in weaker operating EBITDA levels through the first half of calendar 2020 and negatively impacting full year results.

Five Rhode Island hospitals, Bradley, Hasbro Children’s, Kent, Newport and Woman and Infants, are within the Lifespan and Care New England systems.

But just because Fitch has not downgraded other hospitals or healthcare systems in Rhode Island does not mean they are not also under very serious financial pressure.  Hospitals in Rhode Island and around the country are encountering acute cashflow issues because they have been forced to cancel most surgeries and procedures due to the extreme and unprecedented COVID-19 lockdown ordered by many states.  Hospitals and healthcare systems simply cannot operate in a revenue vacuum.

The biggest objective of the very onerous COVID-19 shutdown was to preserve the healthcare system by not overwhelming it.  But the original dire forecast of COVID deaths and hospitalizations has not panned out, as Justin noted already four days ago.  In fact, deaths and hospitalizations were remarkably overestimated. So, correspondingly, our hospitals have not been stressed because of COVID-19.

Paradoxically now, the lockdown itself, not the disease, has turned out to be the biggest threat to hospitals and healthcare systems.

A couple of months ago, no one knew the magnitude of the threat posed by COVID-19 so our officials took drastic action in the absence of information.  But now we have a lot of information and the news is very good, indeed.  The original models were very wrong. Even as we approach the peak of the disease, projected mortalities have dropped stunningly from 2.2M to 60,000.  The disease has turned out to be far less of a threat than we feared.  So the original extreme measure of a lockdown is no longer warranted.  

Now we need to act urgently on this new information, both good and bad.  With the exception of a couple of hotspots, the lockdown needs to end around the country.  Very soon. Like in the next week. Absolutely not next month.  With safety measures at work and in public places and some self-quarantining of more susceptible populations, yes.  But as quickly and precipitously as our elected officials acted to implement the lockdown, they need to end it.  The imminent danger to our hospitals and healthcare system is at the top, but by no means the only, item on the list of urgent reasons to do so.

  • Guest

    Monique, Happy Easter to you too!

    The so called “lockdown” is currently the only proven methodology for combating the ongoing international world wide pandemic sweeping around the earth sickening and killing people. It doesn’t play politics and does no pay attention to individual political aspirations. It just kills. This is real and not a game.

    By socially distancing people minimum 6 feet away from each other and greatly reducing gathering of people limits a d reduces chances of a person infected with the virus and is asymptomatic (not showing signs of infection and not knowing they are infected and it has been demonstrated a asymptomatic person can test negative for Covid-19 and still be positive infected) from cross infecting other people they come in casual contact with at work, going a out normal business or being socially involved.

    The asymptomatic cross infection rate causes a cascading domino effect of person to person virus infections.

    When Justin wrote his comments on April 8, there were about 130 people in RI hospitals and other numbers were relatively low but on April 9 the numbers shot up and have stayed high climbing higher each day and now of 39 Cities and Towns in RI every single one of them is reporting Covid-19 a five positive cases. Thus indicating wide massive community to community and neighborhood to neighborhood spread of the virus.

    RI active positive Covid-19 cases currently is 2,665 and rising plus related deaths currently stand at 63 and rising.

    Nowhere on any 5 consecutive days has the rising curve flatten which the “lockdown” will accomplish over time but you got to give it time to work.

    Prematurely lifting restrictions will cause a resurgence of the virus which will be twice as bad causing more deaths. You have to wait for constant 5-day consecutive flattening of the curve to appear.

    My state has far more stringent restrictions in place with $5,000 fine and/or 1 year in jail for violating emergency orders. Any tourist showing up must have confirmed reservations and must quarantine for 14 days a d same for a y resident who has been out of state and returning home. The state has shut down a $17.76 billion annual income producing tourism industry accounting for 17% of state GDP laying off 260,000 residents. However my state as of today only has 488 positive Covid-19 cases and majority is due to people traveling out of state plus currently only 9 related deaths so very stringent “lockdowns” work in combating spread of pandemic virus.

    Go ahead and continue to advocate for opening back up RI economy a d restoring people’s freedoms (which US Supreme Court indicated could be limited in times of emergency in cases of disaster for the greater good of population health, safety and welfare) and watch the death rate climb as you talk like you’ll be able to absorb the increased death rate that could eventually include family members.

    • Henry Chafee

      The point is, as you state it… this an “emergency?” Not so much with few fatalities.

  • Guest

    Monique, the 2.2 million deaths was quoted by a UK mathematical simulation a pandemic researcher and the number was based on it USA did nothing to curtail the pandemic virus. Please use the number in proper context however as you imply, Trump, CDC, and FEMA did do nothing and wasted valuable weeks and were very slow out of the gate and are playing catchup chasing after the pandemic virus

    That model study also indicated if the USA did something to control the pandemic virus it could cut its death rate to 1.1 million deaths..

    It was the individual Governors of 44 states that jumped into action to save their state’s populations with 8 Republican governors holding back till they could no longer hold back with emergency orders causing President Trump to finally issue a first time in USA history a 50 state national emergency declaration this past week.

    I don’t know where you are getting your numbers from but all I can say from two national resources and government resources, the numbers keep going up and are not flattening the curve.

    As a matter of fact, the USA now leads all other countries in the world in coronavirus positive confirmed cases and related deaths as of yesterday and today, added substantially to the total counts.

    USA Total Covid-19 total current positive cases 556,044 and related deaths currently are 22,073 with 42,735 recovered and currently 491,236 active cases and USA wide across 54 states and territories 2,805,892 tested (per Johns Hopkin University CSSE global Covid-19 map and data).

    Yesterday, the related death toll infuse was 20,000.

    Because The Ocean State Current keeps pushing to quickly remove coronavirus pandemic restrictions and jump start the economy putting USA wide population at very high risk for increased death rates before the 5day concurrent flattening of the curve accrues, you got me wondering, do you guys work for the Russians trying to weaken the USA internally?

    You can rebuild an economy but no a deadt life.

    • ShannonEntropy


      You really need to stop getting all your news from Rachel Maddow & MSDNC

      Here… try another point of view for a change:

  • ShannonEntropy

    Five Rhode Island hospitals, Bradley, Hasbro Children’s, Kent, Newport and Woman and Infants, are within the Lifespan and Care New England systems.

    You forgot the two biggest Lifescam® hospitals: Rhode Island Hospital & Miriam. And Butler is part of CNE but I’ll give you a pass on that one

    How RIH has managed to not go bankrupt escapes me; if the virus doesn’t polish them off maybe they can save a few bucks by firing Tim Babineau and find someone willing to work for a fraction of the $1,922,115 they pay him annually

    I’m not even gonna start in on the mass media hoax this whole “We’re All Gonna DIE!!” virus business is; ask Mike to forward some the links to articles we’ve exchanged recently

    p.s. in case you haven’t figured it out… ‘Guest’ supra is our old pal Makaha Ken from Hawaii. Guess he forgot how to log in. Protip: start with Disqus, Ken

  • Monique Chartier

    Thank you for the comments from the two guests. In the interest of basing this important discussion on facts: while the number of cases and deaths has been rising because we are approaching the peak, the projection for the number of deaths and hospitalization in the United States has dropped dramatically. Even using the IHME projection of 200,000 from two weeks ago rather than the brits’ original projection of 1.5M-2.2M, the new projection to 60,000 is an amazing drop.

    Additionally, most states are NOT hotspots like New York. So why should they be locked down like a hotspot??

    In short, this pandemic is WAY less fatal than originally thought. Accordingly, the original response of a draconian lockdown is no longer warranted and must be phased out – albeit with precautions, but phased out beginning NOW.

    • ShannonEntropy

      There’s an article in The Economist that shows that C-19 is basically just another version of The Flu we get every year. That article is behind a paywall but breitbart summarized it nicely here:

      Also note today’s p.A1 above-the-fold ProJo headline:

      75% of Virus Deaths Are In Nursing Home Patients

      So wouldn’t it make more sense to quarantine the nursing homes and let the rest of us get back to living a normal life ??

      The social and economic fallout from this Lockdown Mass Hysteria is gonna cause more bankruptcies and death than the bug itself:

      And FWIW, because of my advanced age and underlying medical conditions, I am at “high risk” of dying from C-19 if I ever contract it. I am retired and don’t work so the lockdown isn’t affecting me at all. But what the heck, people !! Shutting down the entire economy to protect old geezers like me is the craziest thing to happen in this country since Reuben beat Clay on Season Two of American Idol

    • Henry Chafee

      You know, we could save 100,000 lives this year and every year by engineering vehicles to not go over 55mph. There is no reason for this hysteria when we look the other way on nearly everything else.
      This is a bad flu season.