When I asked my palliative care provider on Monday what it would be like with my COPD lungs to die of COVID-19, he spoke directly. Drugs can help with pain, but it would not be fun.
He also mentioned that like everywhere, ventilators are in short supply here. I told him that if it comes to that, give any ventilator I might use to a younger person. I have lived almost eight decades; it's the right thing to do. For me.
Most definitely I did not mean that old people should do all the dying in this pandemic or that old people should be specifically targeted to die or that the economy should take precedence over whether anyone lives or dies.
But some people – well-known ones - do. Huffpost reports on one of them,
”TV and radio personality Glenn Beck is urging older Americans to return to work to keep the economy going despite the coronavirus infection risks.
“Younger people, he said, could stay home to protect themselves from the virus that causes COVID-19 while older people ― who the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says are more prone to the most serious cases ― should keep working.”
Beck seemed to be following the lead of Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick who, earlier that day,
”...went on Fox News to argue that he would rather die than see public health measures damage the US economy, and that he believed 'lots of grandparents' across the country would agree with him”, reports The Guardian.
“My message: let’s get back to work, let’s get back to living, let’s be smart about it, and those of us who are 70-plus, we’ll take care of ourselves,” Lt Gov Dan Patrick, a 69-year-old Republican, told Fox News host Tucker Carlson on Monday night.”
Trump has been with these guys all week. You've undoubtedly heard that he wants to re-open the U.S. economy by Easter Sunday:
”Following his National Economic Council chairman’s [Larry Kudlow] declaration that 'we’re gonna have to make some difficult trade-offs,' i.e. we’re going to have to let some people die so the stock market can live, Trump told reporters during an evening press conference that while the death toll is 'bad,' and 'the numbers are going to increase with time, we’re 'going to be opening our country up for business, because our country was meant to be open.'”
I'm pretty sure there is not a scientist among us who believes we should return to the previous status quo anytime soon. Here's something else Trump said on Fox News:
”...more people could die by suicide because of stress and anxiety about the economy than would die from COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus.
"'You're going to lose more people by putting a country into a massive recession or depression,' Trump said. 'You're going to lose people. You're going to have suicides by the thousands. You're going to have all sorts of things happen.'”
As several people noted around the web, the president has limited power to stop the lockdown and reopen the economy. Those decisions mostly occur at the state level, made by governors. But little seems to be working as it has in the past since Trump became president so as he too often likes to say, we'll see.
It is a frightening precedent to hear well-known people such as Beck, Kudlow, Patrick, Trump and others (people who, whatever you think of them, are admired and believed by tens of millions) declaring who among us should live and who should die.
Hardly anyone has raised a voice against them for this.