Which Curve is being Flattened?
Posted on March 29, 2020
Today marks one week the State of Illinois has been Sheltering-in-place. Basically, a quarantine order. People are not allowed to gather in groups of more than 10, businesses designated non-essential are shuttered, people told to stay home unless they need to run out for essentials. Social distancing is the new norm . We have another week to go, and as of today, the curve is still growing in Illinois,and doesn’t seem to be letting up.
Yet another curve has flattened, and even has turned downward. That is the economic sector in Illinois. With businesses shut down, from small mom and pop shops to corporations, millions are furloughed and patiently wait for all this to pass over and they can get back to work. As with the rest of the Nation, we are all stuck on that airplane over Lake Michigan in an enormous holding pattern, waiting for our turn to land.
Let’s take a look back shall we?
It’s amazing how we forget. When Covid-19 broke out in China late last year, thousands were sicken. And the death toll started to rise. And yes, you can die of Covid-19, yet fatality rates won’t be known till this is all over. That’s the science of it all, the data is lacking at this moment, even as the CDC struggles to get accurate numbers and pass them along to our Government leaders.
But the sickening was the scary part. Unlike the Common Cold or even Influenza, which typically have an incubation period of 1-2 days, Covid-19 has an incubation around 1-14 days (typically assumed to be 5 days). Which means more people can be infected without the carrier knowing they are passing it along.
This point, was the scariest part of Covid-19. Theoretically Covid-19 could infect our whole nation and we would be dealing with a workforce that was sickened for weeks if not months. This sustained lack of a workforce would seriously impede economic growth, resulting in lack of common supplies, and essential needs, and would lead to a recession if not a depression. Without adequate measures, the Pandemic would keep going, reducing productivity and then ramping up outbreaks in the Fall and Winter. The virus cycle would not be broken, and would continue to wreck havoc on all sectors of our economy. The worst hit would be the Healthcare sector, unable to recoup and keep up with demand, instead of having a painful few weeks, as we are enduring now, there would be months of overpacked hospitals and emergency rooms. Eventually, our Healthcare system would fail, supply chains would fail, and recovery would take decades. More could die, not just from the virus, but those unable to get life saving medicines, proper sanitation, and possibly even starvation. A nightmare scenario was looming.
Let’s Flatten the Curve.
This became the Mantra. If we take a break from social contact, we can stop the spread, and advert a looming disaster, humanitarian and financially. So far, this plan of ours has cost us $2.2 Trillion added to our national debt. Not a pretty thing to be sure, but considering the alternative, probably less than the cost of ignoring the outbreak.
As with any crisis, opportunist always seek a piece of the monetary pie. And with the norm out of Washington D.C., politics dictate that compromises must be made to achieve the goal. Each side will accuse the other side of Pork, each side has a valid point.
Overall, then end results are supposed to justify the means, even if that rarely happenes. If this works? We should have defeated a tiny little enemy, kept our economy from falling into the chasm of catastrophe and come out better on the other side. Yet we will lose people, as we have already, and each loss has a personal, painful, story. Let’s not forget that.
Hopefully we will have learned something after this is all over. We will remember those occupations in our society that fit into the overall society as tiny but necessary gears. That being a stocker at a local store is just as important to society as a nurse. That a Truck Driver puts in long hours to keep America fed . And those in our Healthcare system, put their lives on the line to help others, as with that simple store clerk, ringing up your toilet paper and hand sanitizer knowing you are the 20th person they’ve had contact with that morning. We shouldn’t forget them.
In the end, if done right, we will have flattened one curve and make another one rise, the economic one. For a health of a nation doesn’t rest solely on its physical wellbeing alone. If we do not have an economy to feed us, cloth us, provide ventilators and Personal Protection Equipment, then our physical wellbeing will suffer. More will die. And we can’t have that.
The balance of the curves is the tricky part. When to say one is flatten enough to allow the other one to rise. And not to get those two confused.
[The Opinions in this blog are the Author’s alone.]