One. Count them. One. Not a hundred. Not a thousand. One. That is the number of people in San Luis Obispo County who have died with Coronavirus (CV19). On the day the 82 year old man who was also suffering from underlying health conditions died, 25,000 human beings around the world died from starvation. In the US about 110 Americans died in car accidents. 183 died from a drug overdose. On that day about 600 Californians died from cancer or cardiovascular disease.
Yet the powers that be at State and County level have ordered the shutdown of our economy, the single biggest act of financial self-mutilation ever perpetrated by a government in the history of this country. In a little over a month 3 million Californians have filed for unemployment. Estimates are that 20% will be out of work in two months. State experts say we are already in a recession that could last for years.
Those of us who live here, well all but one of us, are the lucky ones. Across the country in New York State, 14,000 have died.
We are lucky not just because State officials acted decisively to impose a lockdown early on, a decision that means California’s death rate is 3 per 100,000 compared to 70 per 100,00 in New York. We are also lucky because we live in a County that has an average population density of 78 people per square mile. In New York City that number is about 27,000!
Which is where Sweden comes in. They have a population density slightly lower than ours of 57 people per square mile. Yet they chose not to mandate a lock down, but rather to issue guidelines and then trust the good sense and responsibility of their citizens and businesses to do the smart thing. Their death rates are significantly better than most of their European peer group countries, and as importantly they have not sacrificed their economy.
So, let’s not waste our luck. Let’s not allow a fear of body bags in New York and the incessant hysterical headlines of mainstream media stop us from putting our faith in ourselves. Let’s channel the pioneering spirt that put California on the map in the first place.
Let’s also remember that without a functioning economy we have no tax base. No tax base means no Welfare, no Medicaid, no Medicare. A depression means higher levels of death and suffering from mental illness, domestic abuse, homelessness, poverty and poor health. Not to mention a debt burden that will rise from the current 80% debt to GDP ratio to 120% by 2030. The figure after WWII was 106%!
To those who say you cannot put a monetary value on life, that is a fallacy. We do every day. When making budgetary decisions our Government calculate the value of a life at about $9 million. Healthcare companies don’t invest in treatments that cost more than $120,000 per expected life year saved. The average medical wrongful death settlement is about $425,000. The truth is that society recognizes every life has a price beyond which death is acceptable!
So, it is time for State and County officials to ensure we don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. If wearing masks, maintaining social distances, washing our hands regularly and cancelling The Fair is the price to be paid for getting our businesses open and our people back to work; let’s pay it before the cure becomes worse than the disease itself.