Part of living a healthy lifestyle is the ability to think critically. During a time like no other in the history of our country, it is vital that we choose to look at the facts, perform research from trusted sources, and weigh the outcomes. Knowledge gives power and ultimately the ability to make a change for better outcomes in our life and health.
From a young age, we are told to trust those put in authority over us. This may include police officers, government officials, and even medical professionals. They often make us feel powerless like we have no control over what may be happening to our body or in our world. However, the truth is, we do have the ability to ask the tough questions and fight for change when being forced down a path we feel is not right.
Flattening the Curve
While it may seem odd to be talking about critical thinking and knowledge in the middle of a pandemic, it may be more important now than ever. There is a clear dichotomy, or division, within our country right now with many fighting to get back to work, while others are arguing the need to continue the quarantine and therefore prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Quarantining to “flatten the curve” began with the noble intention of looking out for medical professionals and hospitals. The idea was that if COVID-19 was able to run rampant, hospitals would quickly be overrun with sick individuals to the point of having to decide who would have access to a life-saving ventilator over who would have to succumb to the virus. While this has had the intended effect, millions of individuals are now at home with limited food supplies, leading to unhealthy eating and limited ability to move, decreasing physical activity. Furthermore, while flattening the curve has been achieved, shutting down the country has also succeeded in flattening the economy.
Flattening of the Economy
With millions out of work, people are struggling to find ways to support their families. Many are having to use their 401k’s and other retirement funds just to put food on the table. For those who are not dipping into these funds to support their families right now, they likely lost money with the dramatic fall of the stock market. There is no question that many families and small businesses will have to file for bankruptcy due to this economic fallout.
While money isn’t everything, there is no denying that it has an impact on health. Apart from the stress, it can induce, there is a direct correlation between financial issues and alcoholism and suicide. In one county in Tennessee, the suicide rates are higher than the death toll for the coronavirus. If individuals do not return to work soon and recover the economy, economic issues may be an even bigger problem than the pandemic itself.
The Problem with Statistics
When looking at the impact of the coronavirus in regards to the number of patients and deaths, it can be frightening. However, it’s important to note that doctors and researchers are taking liberal counts, meaning the statistics could be greatly inflated.
In fact, many hospitals are being incentivized for each COVID patient and death they have. For each person infected, hospitals can receive up to $13,000; while with each death they can receive upwards of $39,000. Therefore, many hospitals are automatically reporting illnesses as coronavirus without even testing for it.
The Impact on Decision-Making
While it may not seem like these inflated numbers will impact the general population, they in fact do. Many governmental officials rely on this research to make decisions for their cities, and states.
Therefore, if numbers seem high, officials will likely err toward caution and continue quarantine or lock-down conditions. Continued lock-down means more bankruptcies and potentially higher suicide rates.
Putting COVID-19 Into Perspective
Though the danger of COVID-19 is real, it’s also important to keep it in perspective. Right now in the United States, there have been 40,000 deaths. And while this number is rather large and heartbreaking for those who have lost loved ones, deaths from opiate and aspirin medications alone last year were 38,000.
If looking at those that died from regular medication use, that number rises to 300,000. This number of deaths is almost double the number of people who have died from coronavirus world-wide. And, while all of these deaths are tragic, there is no outrage, no extensive media coverage, and no legislation that is going to fight to lower these numbers.
Looking at the Facts
No matter which side you fall on in regards to this virus, it’s important to take a step back, turn off the television, and look at the facts and gain some knowledge. While measures to keep everyone safe are important, it’s also crucial to realize that an economic impact can be just as detrimental as a physical one as it relates to COVID-19.
People are desperate to get back to work. Many are blowing through their life-savings and will soon be expecting government bailouts. And, while a bailout from the government may work temporarily, it is not an adequate long-term solution.
Though it would be nice to be able to trust the government completely, they have proven themselves untrustworthy on many occasions. Therefore, it may be time for you to stop the arguments on social media, gain more true knowledge, and take them to your local government authorities. It is okay to question their decisions rather than following them blindly. This often leads to a deeper education and understanding.
Don’t be afraid to stand up and have your voice be heard and do so with critical thinking and knowledge rather than fear. While the government is not perfect, we are fortunate to live in a country that allows citizens to speak their minds and to disagree without repercussions. Take advantage of that freedom and let officials know how their decisions are impacting your city, county, and state. Standing up now could not only save the livelihood of thousands but could actually save lives.