The Washington Post editorial board made a chilling prediction about what would happen if U.S. businesses that have been shuttered amid the coronavirus pandemic were to reopen by Easter, as hoped by President Donald Trump.
The newspaper’s board — in a column titled “Why ‘choosing’ between the elderly and the economy is a phony, barbaric choice” — warned Friday that “many elderly Americans would get sick and die in the ensuing weeks and months — maybe hundreds of thousands, very likely millions.”
And “so would countless other people,” it added, echoing a point made by Anthony Fauci (the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases) who earlier this week warned young people are “not absolutely invulnerable” to suffering complications arising from COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus.
The board imagined “a social, political, moral — and economic — cataclysm” in worrying detail:
The quick and certain result of a damn-the-torpedoes approach would be to overwhelm and break the health-care system. Hospitals would fill to overflowing. Those in need of ventilators would be out of luck — not only covid-19 patients but also babies, children, tweens and anyone else in respiratory distress. People who suffer strokes, heart attacks, broken bones and gunshot wounds would arrive at hospitals — if they were lucky or rich enough to find ambulances — to find emergency rooms resembling Grand Central Terminal at rush hour. Doctors, nurses and medical technicians would face extraordinary risks; many would not be spared.
Worldwide, the virus has sickened more than 600,000 people and killed almost 27,500. The U.S. now has the highest number of confirmed cases ― 104,000. As of Saturday morning, the nationwide death toll stood at 1,700.
“The costs of the pandemic-induced shutdown are colossal — to the economy, society and the nation’s collective emotional and mental health,” the board concluded. “As dangerous as that is, it is more dangerous still to pretend the pandemic can be harnessed by diktat and wishful thinking.”
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