The Coronavirus gets you thinking in so many ways. At first it is something from another part of the world . Even when it comes home to roost it is something in Washington state or New Orleans. Then little by little it shuts down just about every aspect of your life. You play by the rules, but why?
When the good times are rolling we don’t give much thought to the outcomes of our daily actions. We don’t make life and death decisions except when you are going for the green in two..or three. You try to be a good citizen of your state and country and life goes on. Then in a matter of weeks all that changes.
I got to thinking of the myriad of situations where ethics now enter into the conversation. What? Right here in LaLa Land? You bet and in every metropolis and burgh throughout our fair nation. How we react tells us a lot about ourselves and our country.
It would be so easy just to hunker down and wait until this thing blows over. Sure I will see the nightly tallies and be concerned but it is still too far away to affect me. We are in a bubble both figuratively and physically. Yet open your eyes and look around you. It is closer than you think.
In the simplest sense how do you handle social distancing? Do you play games about washing your hands? If there are supplies in the store do you stock up or think of someone else? The toilet paper thing is bizarre but this is the way some people think. I got mine. Hope you do too but it is every man or woman for themselves.
Let’s get out of the mundane and think about treatment. I spent the morning reading several articles on bioethics. Respirators are in short supply. When the rubber meets the road do you give it to a 30 year old dad with three kids or a failing septuagenarian, if all you have is one? It has been described as a war and it is. Do we use battlefield triage? We would love to be egalitarians but what if we can save more lives by meting out according to specific criteria? That’s a tough one.
We have all witnessed the Captain of the Teddy Roosevelt aircraft carrier. Some will say he was a brave man and others will chastise him for not relying on his oath and the chain of command. It is ironic that he was just diagnosed with COVID 19 a few days after his dismissal. It is so easy to feel this way or that but is it really such a cut and dried situation? What if it were you? Have you ever been in the berthing spaces aboard ship with 5,000 guys and some even using “hot “ bunks? It scares me to even think about it.
We have a “Can Do” philosophy in the United States. I have no doubt that whether it be weeks or months or even years we will beat this thing. We have done the same with SARS, Ebola and the Zica virus. Years ago typhoid, tuberculosis heralded the end of humanity. But until then we have to maximize our resources. We can not make 250,000 respirators magically appear. If everyone is to wear a mask we would need 330 million a day. Is that rational?
Ethics is defined as a moral philosophy or code of morals practiced by a person or group of people. How do we want to live our life as a person and as a community? I think it begs contrasts. Am I a hoarder of necessities or am I a doctor on the front lines risking my own safety for others? Should I get my ass out of the chair and give blood or do I just say that is for someone else.
Can I really say non violent criminals should be locked up and let the chips fall where they may? What about a person with Alzheimers in a nursing home? A poor person is more prone to have diabetes and other comorbidities so I guess they are at risk and really don’t need to be saved or at least have priority for certain types of equipment.
Sorry to be so heavy duty but these times are not for the faint of heart. You can look the other way and I probably would not blame you. I am also not going to tell you I have all the answers. This thing caught us with our pants down. It’s absurd to think we should have had 250,000 ventilators or a hundred million masks at the ready. It is even more unreal that we don’t have to face up to some moral and ethical issues. You can’t kiss this owie and make it all better.
To be perfectly honest all this thinking is quite a wake up call for me. Heretofore my stock portfolio or lack thereof has been most on my mind. The social implications of all this are indeed hard to fathom. Does our whole way of life change? Have we exposed the banality of our politics and our social interaction? Yikes TTG, what has gotten into you? A lot, I am afraid to say.
In closing I am stupefied by the Texas governor suggesting the we old folk sacrifice ourselves for the sake of the economy and our children. Not worrying about me as an old fart as much as the fact this enters into any conversation. I am bewildered by Pelosi, McConnell, Shumer and Trump trying to figure out how to turn a disaster into an opportunity. We all and I mean all of us have to be better than that. It’s a matter of personal ethics or at least I hope so.
Ted The Great
Respirators cost up to $50,000. There are 160,000 spread throughout the country. There are 12,700 in stockpile. 336,376 have tested positive for the virus to date. You do the math.
1.5 million people in nursing homes
2.3 million people in jail
550,000 in homeless shelters.
925 rental units in Hunters Point South in NYC
6 million people normally ride the NYC Subway System. (Cheek to cheek so to speak)
In normal times there are 136 million visits per annum (40 visits per 100 citizens)
By State per 100
• California: 38
• Florida: 44
• Illinois: 41
• New York: 37
• Texas: 49