Every year 2.8 million Americans die. A recently released worst case scenario developed by epidemiologists at Imperial College London shows that COVID-19 could add another 2.2 million deaths. There simply will not be enough ventilators and trained respiratory therapists, nurses and doctors to cope.
Since our immune systems weaken with age and chronic conditions, Italy has proposed a war time triage. People over 80 and people with multiple chronic conditions, who are less likely to recover, will be given care but not ICU level care.
How can we avoid that happening here?
In 1965, the year Medicaid and Medicare were added to the Social Security Act, the average American man lived to 65; the average American woman to 73. Thanks to modern medicine and good public health initiatives, we have gained 15-20 years. Conditions which once killed us have become chronic and manageable. At the same time, our sedentary lifestyles and higher sugar and junk food intakes have added more diabetes, more obesity and more high blood pressure to the conditions to be managed. This is a worldwide phenomena, present even in developing countries.
A study of over 2,000 Chinese COVID-19 victims requiring ICU-level care found that their median age was not 80 or 70 or 65 but 60. Half the people were under 60. This study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association: Internal Medicine, points to another reason we should all physically self-isolate. Unlike seasonal influenza and associated pneumonia, something which used to be called “the old man’s friend,” COVID-19 does not just kill people over a certain age. Anyone with a chronic condition is at risk.
We cannot stop COVID-19 from adding to the death rate, but we should all do everything in our power to keep that rate from doubling.
Other helpful resources regarding Coronavirus COVID-19:
Estate planning attorney, Terry Garrett, is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and is active in the Texas and Austin Bar Associations. She graduated with honors from Cornell University. She was on the Dean’s List at Wharton Business School. She earned her J.D. at Columbia Law School, receiving the Parker Award and a Mellon Fellowship.
She assists families of people with special needs, people planning for the retirement years and people administering estates.