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Opinion

Letters to the Editor: Lockdowns aren’t working if we’re laying off healthcare workers

COVID-19 Testing
At a COVID-19 testing site in downtown San Diego, registered nurses draw blood from a person for an antibody test on April 30.
(Eduardo Contreras / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

To the editor: The article, “Thousands of healthcare workers are laid off or furloughed as coronavirus spreads,” highlights how the singular focus on one objective — fewer COVID-19 deaths — ignores the vast economic damage, human misery and physical health costs that are taken as collateral damage.

We need more science, and I do not mean just epidemiology projections, which are necessary, but also the economic science of cost-benefit analysis.

Are the marginal benefits of a lockdown worth the stunning additional health and economic losses compared with “mere” social distancing and mask requirements? It is not death and illness on one side and economic benefits on the other. As the article ably portrays, there are deaths and illnesses on both sides of the cost- benefit equation.

We seem to be handling COVID-19 differently than any other policy decision. For example, more than 3,000 people in California die every year from car crashes. Nobody has suggested a lockdown that will for sure save thousands of lives and prevent many more hospitalizations with the added bonuses of cleaner air and fighting climate change.

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S. Abraham Ravid, New York

The writer is a professor of finance at Yeshiva University .

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To the editor: That so many healthcare workers are being laid off or furloughed during a pandemic highlights the flaws of the U.S. healthcare financing system. Two important things were omitted from the L.A. Times’ article.

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First, we can expect that private equity firms flush with cash will be buying up many of these failing practices and hospitals. This process was well underway even before the pandemic. The priority of private equity is not quality patient care or the well-being of our healthcare workforce.

Second, laying off healthcare workers and closing hospitals are not occurring in countries with unified systems of public financing — in other words, single payer.

Steve Tarzynski, M.D., Santa Monica

The writer is president of the California Physicians Alliance, a group that advocates for single-payer healthcare.


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