I am an emergency physician and father of three young children. Last month, public health authorities suddenly imposed a two-week at-home quarantine order on two dozen kids from my son’s preschool class due to a COVID-19 exposure. Like all parents of those kids, I lost over $800 in unreimbursed preschool tuition and was forced to rearrange my work schedule. Ironically, these children were probably exposed to more people in those two weeks from attending different day-care and social events than if they had simply remained in their classroom cohort, but, unfortunately, public health orders don’t seem to account for actual human behavior.
Health authorities have two justifications for imposing these kinds of afflictions on the public. Originally, the goal was “to prevent the health care system from being overwhelmed.” In other words, to prevent suffering and death from lack of access to health care, we discouraged people from going to hospitals, shut down medical clinics to in-person visits, and suspended all non-emergency procedures. The implementation was clearly illogical, but at least the goal was rational.
Now that the vast majority of the country has natural or vaccine-mediated immunity to COVID-19 and our health care systems have improved surge capacity, our hospitals are no longer at risk of being truly overwhelmed. Busy? Sure. Systemically overwhelmed and unable to compensate? No chance.