The Portland Press Herald published my letter today on the need to reassess our strategy – if you can call it that – for living with COVID-19.
The letter was responding to the paper’s editorial on Nov. 30, which argued that the appearance of the omicron variant may fulfill scientists’ fears of “a new variant that is more more transmissible and more deadly while being less responsive to treatments and vaccines.” Because we can’t wait to be sure, the editorialist argued that we need to take the usually prescribed preventative measures until the day comes when the world’s population is sufficiently immunized and “COVID is limited to small local outbreaks that can be isolated and controlled.”
Although I think the letter’s argument is pretty clear, I didn’t have the space (letters are limited to 250 words) to make it explicit. So I will do so here:
I was excited to see that the first comment on my letter was from a skeptic who wrote:
“Current level of investment”—there are very many areas where $ we do not have might be spent.“
Another writer added:
“The present surge in demand for hospital beds is unparalleled. We cannot run a cost effective hospital system based on numbers that arrive only when a once-in-a-century pandemic hits. Unless, of course, we think these numbers are here to stay, in which case we will need to plan accordingly.“
Both of which prove the point: If we can’t afford the consequences, we’re obliged to participate in prevention. Or, if we don’t prevent, we must pay the piper, and we can do so in our nation’s health, or in our treasure. You can’t have it both ways.
As an aside, I previously addressed the surge issue in an op-ed co-written with my daughter, who trained to become an EMT just as COVID-19 arrived in the U.S. We argued for a “U.S. Health Corps” which would not only address surges, but also the looming shortage of medical workers in the U.S which predated the pandemic’s impact.