“It ain’t over,” said Yogi Berra, “till it’s over.” This is certainly true of our prolonged battle with COVID-19.
According to Johns Hopkins University data, there were 28 ICU beds in Minnesota occupied by COVID-19 inpatients during the week of July 12-18, 2021. Now, six months later, (from) Jan. 17-23, 2022, there are 264 ICU beds occupied by COVID-19 inpatients in the state.
This past fall, the delta variant and the even more contagious omicron variant have accelerated an unrelenting increase in the numbers of COVID patients in ICUs and/or on respirators.
This trend imposes a tremendous financial burden. FAIR Health estimates that private employers’ insurance plus the employees’ share for each COVID-19 ICU hospital bill averages $106,783.00 per hospitalization in Minnesota. This is the actual amount paid, not merely billed. For those insurers alone, the payouts for this week’s 264 ICU patients total $28 million. That amount does not include the costs of COVID-19 treatment for inpatients not in ICUs, outpatients, patients without insurance, and patients on Medicare or Medicaid, all of which combined would undoubtedly increase it many times over.
Of course, the costs of the suffering and death, the exhaustion and frustration of health care providers, the anguish of community leaders and school boards, losses to business owners, lost productivity, and the aftereffects of COVID-19 are incalculable.
Yet, a quick scan of the two major political parties’ websites announcing their senate district precinct caucuses in Eden Prairie, Minnetonka, and all surrounding areas, reveals that only one party has chosen to protect the personal safety and financial security of its voters, officers and candidates, and their respective communities and businesses by conducting no-contact caucuses.
The other party seems to have opted for the same old in-person precinct caucuses, as though COVID-19 contagiousness and its personal and financial costs are really “over.”
Should we not be able to agree that the price to be paid in terms of rocketing health care costs, human suffering, and economic loss is intolerable and so much greater than should be financially or morally acceptable? Why in this time cannot people be put before party to do everything possible to defeat COVID-19 for the health and safety of all our friends, neighbors, and businesses?
David Thomsen Eden Prairie
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