The COVID-19 War

By Dr. Dan Eichenberger

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April 24, 2020

The United States incurred an unprovoked attack, and the enemy (COVID-19) has inflicted casualties. The President declared war and already invoked the Defense Production Act, essentially forcing private companies into production of what the government demands. Since war has been declared, the expectation is there will be casualties, both of those on the front lines and the innocent. No realistic individual can believe wars come without lives lost. Yet the war strategy is marred with ill-defined goals and no clearly defined end-game. The strategists of this war appear to be politicians, epidemiologists, scientists, and actuaries. The President declared war; however, he is not relying on the general principles of warfare necessary to win. Wars are never won by near-complete withdraw and a shutdown of a country’s economy, limiting the financial strength to continue the fight. History confirms that withdraw comes with consequences usually in favor of the victor. 

The way to defeat this enemy is through immunity. The two methods for immunity are active immunity and passive immunity, both helpful in promoting herd immunity. Passive immunity through immunizations is likely months away, and this war cannot wait for its development. Active immunization must occur and will only happen through the exposure of the disease and supporting the individual until resolution. The quicker herd immunity occurs, the fewer hosts/victims will be available for infectivity. This war, as all wars in the past, can and will be won on the backs of the fighters. There will be losses, and there will be sacrifices. However, the longer we wait to truly enter the battlefield, the more untoward consequences our passivity will create. We are held hostage by bureaucrats and activists who intend to utilize this crisis for their underlying agendas. We are already losing liberties with our first and second amendments in many states by government fiat. We are social shaming and virtue-signaling across all social media platforms as well as mainstream media. We are federalizing more financial agencies to redistribute wealth and socialize more of our free-market.

The economic devastation of shutting down a vast amount of the country increases financial devastation for the most vulnerable in our country. The realities of this include increase in bankruptcies, businesses shut downs, unemployment numbers skyrocketing, increases in domestic violence, increases in suicides, considerable increases in homelessness, leading to less access to adequate nutrition and healthcare. When forced to choose between paying rent, buying food for a family, or paying for medicine or healthcare, most individuals choose rent and food, and forego the healthcare needs. This leads to increased morbidity and mortality down the road. The 2008 recession provided ample support of these conclusions, including the British Medical Journal  (BMJ 2013;347:f5239, https://www.bmj.com/content/347/bmj.f5239 ) attributing 10,000 suicide deaths to the economic recession.

The media portrays this war in a biased fashion utilizing data and statistics which support their narrative and promote their underlying agenda. They routinely use numbers and metrics in absolute terms without providing a reference to a standard population base or another comparable metric. They regularly state the worst-case scenarios rather than the more conservative numbers and rarely, if ever, report the underlying bias, assumptions, or deficiencies of the modeling. A perfect example of this is hospital beds and ventilators. The only scenario in which the United States wouldn’t have enough ventilators or beds is if COVID-19 infected everyone at virtually the same time across the country which is unrealistic and virtually impossible. 

This war is mostly a logistics problem. We will continue to see hotspots (battles) around the country, and the biggest challenge is getting the right people, the right equipment, in the right amounts to the right place at the right time. The majority of patients, other than the critically ill, are no more challenging to treat than other patients. The limiting factor in treating these patients is the time, energy, and additional supplies required every time you walk in the room.  This is the limiting factor and is a logistic problem more than anything else. Many hospitals are furloughing employees because their censuses are so low. We are still learning about the disease in the critically ill and making some inroads; however, many of these critically ill patients will die no matter what medical advances are made. This is not only the nature of war; it is the natural consequence of life. 

This war needs to be managed differently; otherwise, the long-term effects will be worse than the current disease. The economy needs to be selectively reopened immediately based on a risk analysis for each company. The legislatures need to restrict and/or limit any litigation related to a private company wishing to reopen. Individuals need to take personal responsibility related to their individual actions. Society needs to assist in protecting the most vulnerable, which includes the elderly and infirmed. We need to recognize and acknowledge there will continue to be hotspots around the country, and we will continue to see deaths. Every community needs to have strategies and plans in place to logistically and effectively manage each new battle. 

Herd immunity is the solution to win the war. The sooner war strategies are implemented to reach this goal, the sooner we win. 

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About the Author

By Dr. Dan Eichenberger

Dr. Dan Eichenberger is an Indiana native with 25+ years’ experience as a Physician Executive and Healthcare Consultant. Blending mission-driven, transparent leadership and broad clinical experience to elevate performance and improve quality of care, he successfully led Floyd Memorial Hospital and Health Services’ merger with Baptist Health, securing long-term financial benefit to the county. He earned his B.A. Chemistry from Indiana University, his M.D. from the University of Louisville specializing in both adult Internal Medicine and Pediatrics and his MBA from Indiana Wesleyan University. He was named to Business First’s “20 People to Know in Healthcare” in the Louisville Metro Area in 2018. He was the Indiana University Southeast “Chancellors’ Medallion,” Recipient, and the One Southern Indiana “Professional of the Year 2015.” He has been married to his wife Stephanie for 36 years and enjoys teaching, hunting, fishing, and snow skiing. He and Stephanie have four children and multiple grandchildren. His mission is to provide leadership experience and consulting services, grounded in strong Christian principles, to organizations around the country. He and Stephanie have a passion for Christian Apologetics and love to teach, share, and expand apologetics around the community.