Shut down also costs lives

“”These financial losses have been falsely portrayed as purely economic,” wrote the four professors in The Hill on Monday. “To the contrary … we calculate that these policies will cause devastating non-economic consequences that will total millions of accumulated years of life lost in the United States, far beyond what the virus itself has caused.”

The four authors were Scott Atlas of Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, John Birge of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, Ralph Keeney of Duke University, and Alexander Lipton of the Jerusalem Business School of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

The point the authors make, that lockdowns are destroying so many more cumulative years of life, is very poignant to the situation we find ourselves in. For every 1,000 lives lost to the virus, the corresponding 1,000 lives lost to the lockdown will destroy exponentially more “life years,” because the median age of those who die from the virus is 80, while the median age for deaths caused by the lockdown – those who die due to suicide, substance abuse, despair, and poverty – is much lower.”

Right? But when I bring up cancer treatments, people tell me, “Well, everybody I know is getting theirs.” As though their circle of friends is a meaningful statistic. Or I bring up job losses, “That’s just greed.” “Why aren’t they getting by on unemployment? They just have to tighten their belts a bit. Shouldn’t have overextended…”
Not everybody has unemployment. Some were self-employed in jobs deemed nonessential (refilling coke machines is essential, but not selling craft supplies which people might use to make income, entertain children, maintain sanity during a lock-down). Some were already out of work and searching for jobs and run through their unemployment.  Some essential businesses are now laying people off because the shrinking economy has also reduced their income. 
 
I was fine with shutting things down for two weeks, even three, to flatten that curve. We went from flattening the curve to ‘not until a vaccine’ for a virus nobody heard of six months ago. There are single people who have not gotten any human touch in ninety days or more. What is the cost of that? We needed to do this to protect the most vulnerable among us, we said. But we stopped families from visiting their loved ones in nursing homes and then governors in several states put covid patients IN the nursing homes, killing the people we were supposed to be protecting. 
This cannot continue.
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