I have no doubt whatsoever that in some centers, COVID-19 is wreaking havoc with the health care system. News media coverage of (say) New York City's hospitals is bad enough (to say nothing of other centers around the world), but confirmation comes from the rates being offered to part-time nurse contractors to work there. Right now, a traveling nurse can earn up to $100 an hour for a short-term contract in a NYC hospital, plus free lodging in a decent hotel, and in some cases even a free hired car. That's astounding compared to their regular rates - and hospitals wouldn't be willing to pay those figures if the need wasn't desperate.
Nevertheless, there are other centers where the coronavirus simply hasn't taken hold to the same extent. It may yet do so - we don't know - but the picture there is very different. The Last Refuge notes:
There’s something really odd, a profound disconnect of sorts, between what the media is sharing and the reality of what the general public is reporting from their own experience.
According to most national media hospitals are overwhelmed with coronavirus patients.
U.S. media claim doctors and nurses are collapsing under the stress and strain of conditions they describe as “war zones” in the battle against COVID-19.
. . .
However, there is a disconnect ... For every media claim of overwhelmed hospital war-zones, there are a dozen reports from actual workers, nurses, doctors and medical personnel reporting exactly the opposite; and yes, a disparity in reporting even in the New York metropolitan area.
Medical personnel in Wisconsin, Missouri, California, Florida, Colorado, Oregon, Georgia New Jersey, and every region in the USA are reporting there are few to no patients in their facility and the medical staff is being laid-off, or told to go home and/or stay home, because there is nothing to do.
How the heck is this level of profound disconnect possible?
There's more at the link.
The Last Refuge asked its readers to report on what they were seeing in their own areas, with their own health care facilities. At the time of writing these words, there were 835 responses, with more still coming in. It makes interesting reading to click over there and see them for yourself.
I think this is why President Trump is resisting calls from the media and the left-wing establishment to impose a national quarantine, or state of emergency, or whatever you want to call it. He's well aware that the impact of the pandemic is far from uniform. This country is, frankly, too large and diverse to impose a "one-size-fits-all" solution from on high, even if the federal nature of our republic didn't make it basically impractical to do so. The same applies to most states. In New York, for example, two-thirds of the state's population lives in the New York City metropolitan area; but the millions living outside it aren't affected to nearly the same extent by the pandemic. Why should they have to live under the draconian conditions being imposed on NYC?
Furthermore, the President is absolutely correct, IMHO, in his stated opinion that America wasn't built to shut down. Our national economy is already creaking under the tremendous strain imposed by the pandemic. Unless we get back to work in fairly short order, even at the risk of greater rates of infection, we risk a complete economic meltdown that would make the Great Depression look mild by comparison. I'm far from the only person seeing that reality. We simply can't afford to do that - not if we want to still be a city, or a state, or a nation at the end of it. This is the essential conflict and disagreement between those who demand that lives be protected at any and all costs, irrespective of the consequences, and those who want a more balanced view, accepting that there will be more infections - yes, and more deaths - but that this is a necessary price that has to be paid if we are to preserve our economy and our society.
I can already hear some objecting: "It's easy for you to say that, but what if you, personally, were part of the cost? Wouldn't you feel differently about it then?" Yes, I probably would, from my self-focused perspective, but my feelings won't change the facts. Life sometimes demands that we face up to reality. Insisting on personal privilege, safety, health, etc. is all very well, but what if the cost of those things is the destruction of the nation and society in which we live? Sooner or later, there has to come a point of decision. At what point do individual rights and privileges override the safety, security and existence of all of us as a group? Too many of us have refused to face up to that reality.
I can't help remembering the ancient custom in some rural African tribes. In times of drought and famine, the older members of the tribe were - and in some cases still are - expected to leave the village, go and lie down under a tree or bush, and starve themselves to death (or be killed and eaten by the many predators to be found on that continent). It's for the good of the others, so that scarce resources can be used to benefit those who can contribute more to the survival of the village or tribe as a whole. That's simply the way it is, and it has been for centuries, if not millennia. I'm sure the old people hate the idea, but they don't object, because they know and understand the reality of the situation. Their own parents or grandparents might have done the same before them.
In our modern First World societies, we've tended to forget the ancient reminder that "In the midst of life, we are in death". None of us is going to survive this life. Sooner or later, death will come to us. I'm amazed at how panic-stricken many people become at that simple realization, as if it were something ghastly and phobia-inducing. It happens to be inevitable, and we might as well get used to that fact. Nobody wants to die before their time - heck, most of us don't want to die even at a ripe old age! - but it's going to happen sooner or later, whether we like it or not. The coronavirus is simply one possible cause. All of our ancestors from a century or more ago lived with the daily possibility of death from this, or that, or the other loathsome disease. Medical science couldn't help them much, if at all. (Remember, it's less than 100 years since the first mass-produced antibiotic was developed; and the iron lung, to keep alive polio victims who would certainly have died without it, was introduced at about the same time, and was in use until relatively recently.) COVID-19 is just the latest in a long line of microbial killers to menace humankind. It won't be the last.
That's something to keep in mind in facing up to this virus, on a national and regional level as well as our individual consciences. We aren't divine, and don't have divine powers. Waving an administrative or bureaucratic magic wand, and dictating that this, or that, or the other measure is essential to preserve human life, can't eradicate all the other considerations we have to take into account about our national and personal existence. There's more to resolving this crisis than quarantines.