In the beginning of the state-planned panic, news agencies promoted the idea of "flattening the curve" in order to free up hospital beds for those who would come in sick with Coronavirus.
In this vein, people were told to stay home for 2 weeks and hospitals were told to deny elective procedures.
For more on the elective procedures issues, read:
Preserving Elective Surgeries in the COVID-19 Pandemic and the Future
Of course, as with all state central planning, the reality of what was being done to people was a far cry from what those in power were saying would happen.
The first distortion was the idea that hospital beds would be overwhelmed. This distortion came from a "fixed-pie" mindset that increasing capacity, that is, putting out more make-shift beds and allowing for temporary facilities, was not possible in the private sector.
This fixed-pie mindset was fostered by a state regulation called "certificate of need." Certificate of need is a policy in many states where new hospitals cannot be built unless existing hospital boards approve of it. Sounds sketchy, right? Why would the competition be allowed to decide WHO gets to build more medical facilities? Well, that historical cronyism came under the banner of corporate hospital lobbyists saying that hospitals would go under if too many competitors were allowed. Of course, this nonsense only serves to enrich existing corporate hospital chains and keep prices up from a lack of cutting-edge competitors.
For more on this, read: https://www.investopedia.com/terms/c/certificate-of-need.asp
"Certificate of Need" Health Care Laws Made COVID-19 Much Worse
When new land-based hospitals were limited, there were actually many entities who offered up temporary bedding such as cruise liners that now had no passengers to tote.
See for example:
Carnival Offers Use of Its Cruise Ships As Temporary Hospitals (Video)
Of course, those in the state had other plans in mind as they wanted to be viewed as the "saviors" and the private market as the "failure."
With the private sector strapped, those in state power went forward with offering their state-based solutions.
The government opened up various temporary facilities, from tenting with the National Guard, to bringing Navy Hospital ships to dock.
What happened with those temporary facilities?
They went underfilled or unused.
Many field hospitals went largely unused, will be shut down
Hospital Ship Comfort Ends NYC COVID-19 Mission After Treating 182 Patients
What those in power either failed to realize, or maybe, realized for a nefarious end, is that by cutting off services for elective procedures and scaring people to stay home, there simply were not as many people going to hospitals in the first place.
Hospitals largely were empty around the U.S. SAVE some large cities in select states where the governors put sick patients into nursing homes and made the spread worse. (A discussion for a another article).
See: 'All of our rooms are empty': Hospital ERs vacant during pandemic
U.S. hospitals are losing millions of dollars per day in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic — and recovery may take years
So, what lessons can we take away from this?
1.) The government prevented people in the private sector from increasing capacity to handle more sick patients.
2.) The government prevented people from getting elective care that was actually crucial to catching other serious conditions.
3.) The government tried to be the hero with temporary hospitals, but they ended up being largely unused because so many people chose not to go to the hospital either out of fear or because they were not allowed to.
It's a clown shown, but these tricks are not funny.
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