The Lockdown, Not the Disease, is Overwhelming Hospitals.  End It.

The COVID-19 lockdown is financially decimating hospitals.  Becker’s Hospital Review reports that

209 hospitals are furloughing workers in response to COVID-19

That link has a detailed list of impacted hospitals and employees that goes on and alarmingly on.  The very partial list below, from news reports, identifies the reason: lack of patients and a corresponding lack of revenue.

> St. Louis-based SSM Health is furloughing 2,000 employees for 13 weeks and reducing the hours of other employees.  SSM Health stated

“SSM Health is experiencing the same financial challenges that health systems across the country — and the world — are facing.  We’ve continued to invest in supplies and tools needed to respond to the pandemic, while volumes across our four-state health system have decreased by roughly 50%.

> Pennsylvania’s healthcare systems have seen “a nearly $1 billion revenue hit in March alone due to cancellation of “elective” surgeries.

> And the Providence Journal reports that operating losses from March to May for Rhode Island’s own Lifespan, the state’s largest health system, could approach $100 million.

As the Ocean State Current noted at the time, Fitch Ratings has put fifteen healthcare systems/hospitals on negative ratings watch earlier this month

The COVID-19 lockdown was never intended to reduce the number of cases, only spread them out.  The lockdown had exactly one goal – to not overwhelm our hospitals – and that has been achieved. Now it is the other end of the spectrum – lack of patients – that imperils our hospitals.

The lockdown should have ended already, with reasonable safety mitigation and voluntary self-isolation of vulnerable populations, as soon as its sole goal had been achieved. (Reminder: antibody testing results uniformly point to COVID-19 being far more infectious and, therefore, far less deadly than originally projected.) Now it is causing real damage, on several critical fronts but perhaps most importantly, to the very sector it was intended to protect, as Dr. Daniel G. Murphy, an emergency physician at St. Barnabas Hospital in The Bronx, in the heart of the country’s coronavirus hotspot, reports from the front line.

COVID-19 has been the worst health care disaster of my 30-year career, because of its intensity, duration and potential for lasting impact. The lasting impact is what worries me the most. And it’s why I now believe we should end the lockdown and rapidly get back to work.

End the lockdown.  Not on an arbitrary, unnecessarily dragged out schedule.  Now.  The cure has seriously sickened the patient.

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