Meanwhile, here in Washington, D.C., we're beginning to reopen tomorrow, nearly ten days after the last of the 50 U.S. states. That's overdue, to say the least. Despite being one of the hardest hit areas in the United States outside of New York City, our hospitals have never been remotely threatened with being overwhelmed, which was after all the danger the lockdown was originally supposed to prevent. The district's hospitals hit their peak of COVID-19 patients a month ago, on April 28, with COVID patients taking up less than one-eighth of our overall healthcare capacity. If anything, the bigger threat to the hospitals is simply going out of business, since their profitable patients have almost entirely disappeared. And considering the ongoing hysteria who knows when they'll return.
Of course, "beginning" to reopen does not mean many significant changes, anyway, and we have not even identified specific criteria for moving to the next "phase" of reopening after this one. Probably they will be as nonsensical as the criteria for starting to reopen in the first place. I fully expect our mayor to at some point join governors of other jurisdictions in deciding that we cannot fully reopen until a vaccine or cure is developed, which is to say quite possibly never.
That won't last, of course. More people are realizing that they cannot live in perpetual fear every day, and they are voting with their feet. That may result in more infections, but infectious diseases have been commonplace throughout human history. COVID-19 is worse than most, at least for the elderly, but it is not worth reordering our society around, potentially permanently. Dying, after all, is not the only way to avoid actually living.
The difference between merely being alive and actually living is also why the likely shift towards isolating vulnerable populations such as nursing home residents is misguided. It's true that COVID-19 poses a great risk to such persons, but the alternative is even worse. Even in normal times, the median nursing home patient only lives about 5 months between admission and death; the average is higher but still only about 13 months. Simply put, they can't wait for a vaccine because they overwhelmingly won't live to see one, even on the most optimistic development timelines. Confining these people to their homes, or in some cases even their rooms, and forbidding them visitors to "save" their lives is utterly nonsensical. They are going to die anyway. Our priority should be helping them make the most of what limited time they have left, not prolonging their bare existence at the cost of making it as miserable as possible. No rational person would accept solitary confinement for the rest of their lives to extend their life spans by a few months. Yet that is essentially the fate we seem likely to righteously condemn many of our elderly population to.
On a lighter note, I am quite enjoying the rampant hypocrisy of the hysteria-promoters. From reporters shaming people for not wearing masks while their own camera crew stand around maskless in crowded areas to Neil Ferguson breaking the lockdown he called for to meet with his married mistress, hardly a day goes by without a dozen or so self-righteous blowhards failing to take their own medicine. It's a truly absurd time. I mean, granted, it was even before the coronavirus (see, e.g., Trump, Donald J.), but the virus has taken the absurdity to even greater heights. I look forward to the inevitable post-pandemic hygienic security theater. As a starting point, I propose that all persons be required to submit to having their temperature taken rectally before being admitted to any restaurant or bar.