COVID-19 and the Unanticipated Consequences
Unintended consequences of COVID-19 are becoming apparent. The topic in general is extremely complicated, and has become a moving target in many respects. Unfortunately, as the novel coronavirus has been getting all of the attention, most countries have taken their eye off of the ball in terms of ongoing healthcare. Healthcare represents a significant percentage of GDP for nearly all countries and approaches 20% for the United States. The needs that drive this contribution to GDP have not gone away since the introduction of COVID-19 onto our country.
Stay at home requests, non-essential business closings, and a host of other external factors have come into play as well, with even the healthcare industry experiencing layoffs and a shifting care model on the fly. The unintended consequences are only now being identified, and only on a very limited basis, as the primary focus remains on COVID-19.
Lack of Clarity
Lack of clarity on the virus and fears of dire consequences have dramatically impacted the psyche of the nation, which is compounding by the need and desire to “reopen” without a well-comprehended strategy for reopening businesses while schools remain closed, protecting the most vulnerable when others need to remain socially distant, and bringing back full staffs of employees when business revenues are anticipated to be down 75% for some industries.
When will we See a Vaccine?
While a vaccine, or even highly reliable therapy, would put many minds at rest, this is not likely to happen until the end of the year, and even this is being hopeful, if not overly optimistic. But still, the country needs to “reopen”, and to reopen soon, if we wish to minimize the impact of the virus on economic, social, financial, and health-related aspects of the nation.
Despite efforts to address issues related to hospital beds, respirators, and personal protective devices, the healthcare system is suffering from:
- Missed appointments, vitals, and lab work
- Resulting missed diagnoses, interventions, and therapies
- Reduction in ER visits for life-critical events such as heart attacks and strokes
- Delays in critical “elective” surgeries (heart stents, bypass surgeries, cancer treatment, to name only a few)
- And of course, the mental health issues associated with the fear of the virus, the impact on families, and the massive layoffs and impact to paychecks and/or retirement funds. All leading to potential increases in suicide, drug use and overdoses, domestic violence, and other major issues.