We are at war.
No, not with the foes of other nations. We are at war with a virus that has mutated and spread quickly throughout the world, causing thousands of deaths and destruction in its wake.
But what I wonder is this: what if we are causing more deaths and destruction by shutting down our economy in an effort to fight Covid-19?
Apparently, I’m not the only one with these same questions. As I shared them openly on my Instagram stories Saturday, over half of my responses in my inbox said things like, “My thoughts exactly” or “Thank you for saying ALL of this.” Yet, I barely scratched the surface of all these questions.
The question nobody seems to be asking is this. “Are we causing more deaths and destruction from this forced economic shutdown?”
We are facing an unpreceded situation where medical supplies are quickly being diminished. Unfortunately, are we preventing quicker development and delivery of more medical supplies due to a short-term rush to “slow the curve?”
In an effort to isolate the disease and prevent its rapid effects and overwhelming the healthcare system, the government created orders to “flatten the curve.” The thought is that it could help slow the rapid contamination of this disease in individuals, which could give us more time to find a strong vaccine to fight it or enable enough manpower (healthcare workers) to treat the infected.
However, what if we failed to see the additional catastrophic effects this is going to cause everyone, creating MORE deaths and destruction because of the forced economic shutdown?
As Cato Institute attests, “with economic contraction comes worsening despair, destitution, and increased morbidity and mortality rates. The benefits of extreme social distancing may save lives over the next few months, but the costs—in addition to what may become the worst economic contraction the world has ever witnessed—include lost lives, too. Accordingly, it makes no sense to put all the onus on reducing demand for health services—especially when doing so requires our taking actions that will kill people anyway.”
In summary, this article states a forced quarantine may help save lives in the short run, but likely will cause more lives to be lost in the long run. This doesn’t take into account how this has caused a severe global recession, the likes of which we’ve never experienced before. Banks and economists say “this recession will succeed anything previously recorded, even World War I.”
These articles indicate there will be catastrophic effects of shutting down the economy for weeks to months or longer. There may be MORE deaths in the future due to an economic shutdown because there won’t be enough medical supplies to give others the help they need. Your mom or sister may not have the economic means to get the help they need because their income was eliminated. There may be more sick and unhealthy individuals in the long-run due to a depressed economy, not just within the US but the world.
Professor Michael Marmot, an expert in health inequality at University College, states, “People in manual or service jobs would be unable to work from home so would be unable to follow “social distancing” recommendations and secondly poorer people tend to have worse health. If, given infection, presence of sickness increases the seriousness of Covid-19, there could well be a higher death rate in people at prior social disadvantage.”
This suggests that the poor or economically disadvantaged have a greater risk of death from Covid-19 in the months and years to come due to the shutdown of the economy, even though it was an attempt to prevent more deaths.
What can we do?
Perhaps this was inevitable no matter what choice was made. If the government let this disease take its natural course, we still might have found ourselves without enough medical supplies due to the high demands of individuals needing help all at the same time.
Yet, wouldn’t a stable economy be more effective at producing additional needed supplies, enable more health clinics to be built to meet the demand, and enable more people to get the treatment they need?
Perhaps instead of forcing a nationwide shutdown where EVERY person stays home causing severe economic hardship, what if the focus was on helping protect the more vulnerable in our society–the elderly, any individual with preexisting medical conditions, those connected to those people, and anyone else that wants to isolate. Statistics show those with preexisting medical conditions–heart disease, lung issues, immunocompromised–are most susceptible. While other studies show that, while this virus can infect even the healthy (and it has), the death rate of healthy individuals is still very low–less than 1% for those 50 and under.
Perhaps we could have found other ways that would have prevented a full-scale economic collapse while helping save as many lives as possible?
Some skeptics tell me to look at Italy where the number of deaths far outweigh other countries. They say, “this will be us!”
But experts agree that there are valid reasons why Italy has been hit so hard, and it won’t be the same scenario for us all. According to Prof Walter Ricciardi, scientific adviser to Italy’s minister of health, the country’s mortality rate is far higher due to demographics – the nation has the second oldest population worldwide – and the manner in which hospitals record deaths [resulting in biased results].
Prof Walter goes on to say, “The age of our patients in hospitals is substantially older – the median is 67, while in China it was 46,” Prof Ricciardi says. “So essentially the age distribution of our patients is squeezed to an older age and this is substantial in increasing the lethality.”
(We haven’t even looked at the number of collateral deaths that occur from an economic turndown. Suicide rates have consistently demonstrated an increase during times of recession and economic hardships.)
What if we push the government to allow businesses to reopen immediately and allow people to go back to work, with the exception that 60 years old and up, or those with immunocompromised conditions stay home for 4-6 weeks?
While none of us want to lose our loved ones (especially those well into their later years), and every life is valuable, what if we are causing MORE potential deaths and hardships, especially to our younger generation through this forced economic lockdown?
Hope for those feeling hopeless
We are facing an unprecedented situation that we’ve never truly experienced before. With so many unknowns, the reaction most of us are experiencing with this Covid-19 virus threat is fear.
Fear of losing loved ones.
Fear of losing our jobs or income.
Fear of no control with the outcome.
I’m not immune to this fear. I’ve had these same thoughts, questions, and concerns in my own heart about this.
And yet, many of us as Christians (including myself) have forgotten the ancient biblical truths to override all of these fears.
We’ve forgotten that no matter how in control we believe we are, we are not in control of whether we live or die tomorrow. While we can do our part–washing our hands, staying home (especially those that are already immunocompromised), seeking medical help when needed–there is no guarantee that these things will keep us alive and breathing. We cannot predict when our life, or a loved one’s life, will end. But if we believe in the truth–that God is in control and He is for us not against us (Romans 8:31)–then we shouldn’t fear the future. We honestly can’t control whether or not we live or die, as much as you may believe this to be true. You may do everything possible to prevent the Covid-19 virus, and you may die in a car accident tomorrow. Life is fragile. It is a gift. It is fleeting and we are not invincible to the inevitable that will happen to us all (unless you’ve figured out how to live in this world forever).
We’ve forgotten that we, as Christians, have an eternal hope in heaven that far outweighs the world. We have forgotten that even if we pass from this life, which God says is but a short mist (James 4:14), life has only just begun for us as we enter into the eternal heavenly realm (Phil 1:21). This is a hard concept, even Paul had a tough time wrapping his mind around wanting to stay alive on earth or depart to heaven. Paul states “I’m torn between two desires: I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me.” (Phil 1:23)
We’ve forgotten that money and status isn’t everything. If we lose it all, but we have our faith in God, we are still rich and have everything we need (Matt 6:19-21). I wonder if God is testing my faith in Him through this. With the economy unstable and my own income affected by this, what if God is working to open my eyes, and others, to the possibility that maybe God is trying to get our attention by helping us see that there is more to life than financial security?
The truth is, we are ALL just passing through this life and onto the next. If we place our hope in Jesus, then our eternal life and security in heaven far outweigh any hardships, stressors, fears, or pains we will experience here on earth. It becomes a lot less scary to think of what could happen to those of us who believe in Him.
This classic saying continues to plague my thoughts, “What would Jesus do?” (WWJD)
I wonder, would Jesus be hiding in his home, waiting out this virus? Or would he continue serving others, sharing with them about the love and hope we can have with the God that created us? I wonder if Jesus would ask us to follow His lead by taking a stand to reach more to the lost, broken, and scared? To provide hope to those that are fearful of death because they don’t know what will happen to them when they take their last breath.
I wonder, “perhaps we’ve become too complacent, thinking we’re invincible and haven’t given enough thought about this fundamental question–what happens after I die? Is there life after death? If so, how does this change to how I react to this crazy situation?”
We are waking up to a scenario where there may be even more opportunity than before to save the lost and reach out to those who are afraid and don’t know what they believe. Regardless of the decisions that have been made (and will continue to be made about this matter), let us as believers not give up loving others and sharing with them the good news of Jesus. Put on the heart of peace, which will become like a magnet to the hearts of the lost as they become curious as to why you remain so calm in the midst of the crazy and chaos.
Then share this with those that are feeling scared, lost or confused, “[My] hope comes from God. May He fill you with joy and peace because of your trust in Him.” (Romans 15:13)
And if you are feeling afraid, recite this over and over again until you feel His peace,
“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for the sake of His name. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” (Psalm 23, BSB)