Quantify a Life

A lot of people are getting ready to receive a nice check from the federal government to offset the hardship they are experiencing because of the pandemic. For some its a bonus, because they are essential and haven’t lost their jobs. For others it’s a bandaid on punctured hull, and it won’t cover the month’s bills. Some of you have seen your 401k shrink, more of you are dipping into your savings to cover lost hours or pay a premium for scarce goods. You’ll need to cut back. Maybe look for a side hustle. Spend cautiously.

With the economic trauma occurring around the world, people — some in positions of power — have started suggesting we reopen the country, our schools, the malls, and save the economy rather than attempt to save lives. Obviously there is pain right now, and might be for a while, but what about the alternative? What is a life worth? Do you think your neighbor would rather lose their retirement or their spouse? Their paycheck or their child?

It has been devastating to discover what a selfish country we live in today. Fighting over toilet paper, disregarding social distancing and now the Stay At Home orders, going on spring break trips against the advice of the State Department and CDC, calling the disease that had already killed thousands a “hoax” because it was inconvenient to be honest. All with the attitude that this disease isn’t your problem, because you are healthy and could survive. First, it’s not just about deaths. Even people who recover can spend three weeks in a medically induced coma having a ventilator breathe for them before they return to their normal lives. If everyone continues traveling and socializing, more people will get sick faster and clog up hospitals so that there aren’t enough ventilators to go around, and people who would have survived will die anyway just because we didn’t stay home, stay away from anyone who doesn’t live with us, and wash our fucking hands.

Testing in the US has been abysmal. In El Paso, you can only get tested if you show all the symptoms of COVID19, and scientists are suggesting up to 40% of people might be carriers who don’t even know they have the virus. So people say you don’t even know you have it, so it’s not a dangerous disease! 40% of the population is walking around touching every damn surface, squeezing all the tomatoes before selecting the perfect one, sneezing their harmless allergy sneezes on the other 60% of the population, who will end up sick.

Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick said two weeks ago that “grandparents” would be happy to die for the economic benefit of their grandchildren. I am fairly sure he didn’t do any polling on this, since I know a lot of grandparents who are just now living their best lives enjoying retirement and snuggling their new grandbabies. But the crucial thing here, is that it doesn’t exclusively kill older people. It also kills people in their 30s, and recently there have been reports of children dying. Sure, maybe some of those people had underlying health conditions, so perhaps their lives are worth less to those obsessively checking their stock portfolios.

Can’t touch this.

Let me be a selfish American for a moment, and tell you about my son with asthma. When he gets a chest cold, the normal coughing aggravates his asthma and turns into abnormal coughing that can get so bad he chokes. We control the symptoms with a nebulizer, and he eventually recovers, but getting aggressive pneumonia would be extremely difficult for him to overcome. If you get a positive diagnosis and need to be admitted to a hospital, you can’t have any visitors, no matter how dire the situation, and the rules are the same for patients who are four. 25 million people in America have asthma, and that is just one of the indicators of possible complications from COVID19.

The lives of these people are not worth less than those who have a better chance of riding out the virus at home. No one expects my son to live a poor-quality, shorter life because he needs a puffer for his cough. The way we discount the deaths of people with underlying health conditions is grotesque, as if those people were all about to die anyway.

Whoa, a thirty year old guy died from COVID19?

Yeah, but he had other health problems.

Oh. Well then, meh. 

Just because someone has an underlying issue, does NOT mean they were already at death’s door and the virus just gave them a little shove. Millions of people all over the country are coping with chronic health problems that don’t even diminish their everyday lives, and we are somehow willing to accept their deaths, perhaps, because it makes those without issues feel better about their own chances of survival. I’ve got news for you: COVID19 takes down healthy young people without chronic health problems, too, and if you keep going out, seeing friends and family, ignoring the protocols, catch the virus and end up in the hospital, there might not be a ventilator for you. Stay home, stay safe. What is the point of my sacrifices if you are now socializing more because you’ve got time to kill? Act like you tested positive, and don’t visit or touch anyone. 

Also, there is now evidence that China has been lying about the true death toll there, so we have no idea what’s coming.


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