Thursday, September 10, 2020

Coronavirus Policy Has Been Hurting, Not Helping, Older and Less Healthy People

By Adam Dick - September 10, 2020 at 10:56AM

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At first, coronavirus was sold as a very dangerous disease for everyone. Some people still believe that line, but the facts were clear months ago that for healthy, younger individuals the risk of severe illness or death from coronavirus is very low. And the risk diminishes the younger one is, with children being at nearly zero risk of death and tending to have no to minor symptoms if infected.

As these facts have become more generally known, politicians and media have shifted the emphasis in their promotion of fear and the continuation of coronavirus crackdowns. They have talked more about the need to protect older and less healthy individuals from coronavirus. Yet, overall, it seems like the fearmongering and governments’ coronavirus policies have brought more harm than help to these higher-risk individuals.

Especially early on some hospitals seemed to put coronavirus patients — often elderly individuals who already had major health problems — on care protocols that amounted to conveyer belts to death. These protocols were encouraged by policies including extra government payments that kicked in as patients moved to more intensive care in hospitals and were connected to ventilators. There was no similar government encouragement for pursuing less extreme and often more successful treatment options.

While in hospitals, many of these coronavirus patients were also prohibited from being visited by friends and family. Such visits can improve health by bringing joy and comfort during a stressful situation. Also, friends and family, even if they have little medical knowledge, can apply common sense to act as effective advocates for the improved treatment of patients.

Even visitors bringing a patient a tasty, nutritious meal can do wonders. It is amazing how terrible the food can be at expensive hospitals that are supposedly centered on bringing people to better health. Hospitals can also just ignore patients’ food requests such as by repeatedly giving nonvegetarian food to a vegetarian.

Over at nursing homes, residents have similarly been deprived of visits from friends and family as part of protocols supposedly instituted because of coronavirus. These missed visits could have lifted the residents’ spirits while allowing outsiders to judge if living conditions are satisfactory. While visitors were prohibited to supposedly protect against coronavirus infection, some governments required the transfer of coronavirus patients from hospitals to nursing homes.

A big disservice to older and less healthy individuals has been the effort to “flatten the curve” for coronavirus through actions including mandating “social distancing,” restricting travel, and closing down businesses, religious gatherings, and schools. Slowing the spread of the virus, to the extent it is successful, extends the time for which people who are more threatened by coronavirus are at higher risk from infection. It does so by delaying herd immunity.

The United States government has been spending and the Federal Reserve has been printing trillions of dollars in an effort supposedly purposed to mitigate the economic damage from coronavirus crackdowns. In contrast, just allowing coronavirus to spread more quickly while people most at risk of major harm isolate themselves, if they choose, would minimize economic trouble and sooner allow older and less healthy people to relatively safely take part in normal activity when herd immunity develops.

If governments could not resist implementing big expensive responses to coronavirus, they could have, instead of pushing isolation, hosted “coronavirus parties” where younger, healthier people would be encouraged to mingle in close quarters to speed the spread of the virus. Absurdly, six months into the coronavirus crackdowns in America, the exact opposite is being done. For example, many college campuses at which most students would be at very low risk of major problems from coronavirus are remaining closed or are reopening with draconian prohibitions on students being close to each other.

Like other individuals, older and less healthy people have suffered under the extreme restrictions on liberty that have been imposed in the name of countering coronavirus. Instead of people just having, as always, the option to limit their activities to seek to avoid infection, mandates have been imposed seeking to force such behavior. Like many younger and healthier people, many of the people in groups more susceptible to harm from coronavirus would prefer to continue to live life as normal. Others would like to choose their own level of restraint. While people in government and media pat themselves on their backs for shutting down much of civilization to protect older and less healthy people, many of the supposed prime beneficiaries of these actions are angry that much of the joy in life has been shut off by no-good “do-gooders.”

Mask mandates imposed in the name of countering coronavirus can be particularly burdensome and harmful for older and less healthy individuals. For someone who already has breathing trouble, putting on a mask compounds the problem. Plus, masks trapping filth right at a person’s mouth and nose is a recipe for inducing sickness, especially for people who already have weakened immune systems. To boot, masks provide no net protection from coronavirus. Mask mandates are psychological operations masquerading as science-based policy.

Little mentioned is the fact that among so-called essential workers are many older and less healthy individuals who throughout the coronavirus crackdown have continued to show up at work. Many of their jobs even call for frequent and rather close contact with other individuals. Workers at grocery stores that have seen much more traffic during the coronavirus crackdown, for example, have had an increase in such on-the-job interactions. Many of these higher risk workers have also been required to wear masks while on the job.

Maybe these older and less healthy essential workers are little mentioned because the coronavirus crackdowns are more about bossing people around on a grand scale than about actually trying to protect people’s health. That would also explain why governments have mandated that businesses shut, that people stay home, and that people stay six feet apart and wear masks in the name of countering coronavirus but do not say anything about how people can help themselves gain protection through actions such as taking vitamins and improving their diets.

While coronavirus crackdowns are supposedly purposed to help older and less healthy people avoid coronavirus infection, the crackdowns have caused many of these same individuals’ health to deteriorate. Restrictions including social distancing, stay at home orders, and travel limitations have increased the isolation of many of these individuals from friends and family. This isolation is unhealthy, preventing positive interactions that can enhance health. It also cuts off friends and family from discovering health dangers of older and less healthy people and assisting them in dealing with such.

The widespread shutdown of much of healthcare operations during the coronavirus crackdown also hit older and less healthy people hard. They were deprived of medical visits where health problems could be uncovered. This has resulted in delaying treatment, sometimes to the extent that a problem ceases to be treatable. Also, scheduled surgeries and other treatments were canceled due to coronavirus decrees, leading to worsened health in many instances.

It is important to remember that not all health care is provided by a doctor, nurse, or drug. The closing of gyms left many older and less healthy individuals without their trusted means of ensuring they stay physically fit. With restaurants, movie theaters, sports stadiums, symphony halls, and many other venues shuttered, avenues for helping stay mentally fit have also been very much curtailed.

Like individuals generally, older and less healthy individuals often have a focus on maintaining and improving their financial situation. They are among the small business owners whose businesses have been devastated by the coronavirus crackdowns. Kill or significantly impair a business with shutdowns and restrictions on operations and the owner can be put in terrible financial shape. Small businesses have ongoing expenses that must be paid even when they do not operate. Owners may have little savings — savings often intended for retirement — to pay personal expenses when business profits disappear. Mortgage and rent payments can be difficult or impossible to pay.

Economic devastation wrought by coronavirus crackdowns, of course, can also lead to negative health consequences.

Older and less healthy people also want to enjoy life. That includes being out and about, visiting with people, taking advantage of what goods, services, and entertainment businesses have to offer. Even if fearmongering and government mandates were to succeed in reducing coronavirus risks taken by some older and less healthy people, many of them would prefer to take on greater risk if that means they can keep living life normally.

It should be kept in mind that the health risk from coronavirus for even older and less healthy people is often overblown. Coronavirus is frequently promoted as the cause of death despite the presence of major and long-term comorbidities. In many of these instances, “coronavirus deaths” would be better understood as “deaths with coronavirus” than as “deaths caused by coronavirus.” Yet, government policy encourages the coronavirus attribution. Further, when coronavirus contributes to a death along with comorbidities, it can do so by just pushing the date of an impending death forward by days, weeks, or months. Various other infections can do the same.

Coronavirus fearmongering and crackdowns have also meant that for many older and less healthy individuals the bucket list — a list of things a person would like to do before he dies — has kicked the bucket. Consider a person who during the coronavirus crackdowns was told by his doctor that he has six months to live. His bucket list may have included taking a trip abroad to visit a historical site or natural wonder, watching a Broadway play, and seeing his grandchild play in a school sports competition. Too bad none of this would likely be doable. Restrictions and delays have been imposed on passport applications. Much travel internationally and interstate has been barred or subjected to restrictions including mandatory quarantines. Live events from Broadway plays to local improv troop shows are shut down. Many schools have been “virtual” only.

Even an older or less healthy person who would choose to hole up in his home for months on end and who would on his own initiative take every action mandated in coronavirus crackdowns because he thinks it is the best course is harmed by the crackdowns. He is harmed by the damage imposed on the economy. He is harmed, if he exercises some empathy, by seeing the economic destruction and restraints on liberty imposed on others.

The coronavirus fearmongering and crackdowns have devastated the economy and liberty. While governments claim such devastation is merited to protect older and less healthy individuals, that claim is false. These individuals, like younger and healthier individuals, are victims — not beneficiaries — of the fearmongering and crackdowns.

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