Discrimination Against Older People Comes Storming Back in the Covid-19 Crisis
We live in the greatest country in the world. At the same time, it is sad to see how rampant discrimination is. Even those in our own families have suffered from it. It may have been our grandparents, parents or, perhaps, even us. Some of us may have been discriminated against at various points throughout our lives. It may not have happened to others until they aged or retired.
In a prior post, I wrote about discrimination against older people. If you care to read it, please click here.
In 2020, the Covid-19 crisis swept across America. Along with it, discrimination against older people raised its head again, more sinister than when I wrote my prior post.
The Boomer Remover
When information about Covid-19 started coming out, there were reports this was a virus which affected old people. Some said it was a “boomer remover.” Those dying from it were in the Baby Boomer generation.
While it is true, far more older people had died as a result of it, that didn’t happen because older people couldn’t handle it. It was because many who died had other severe medical conditions. Their immune systems were so weak their bodies could not fight off the virus when they got it.
When Covid-19 started spreading, the medical community and infectious disease specialists warned there was no vaccine for it. The only way to keep from getting it was to avoid contact with anyone who might have it. “Safer at Home Orders” were issued. We were told to stay at home. All businesses except those providing essentials for the day to day lives of people were shut down.
Don’t Violate My Rights
Immediately, some people complained their rights were being violated. That led to protests. The main complaint was why take such drastic measures when only older people had the most severe cases. At one such protest in Nashville in April, a lady had a sign saying
Sacrifice The Weak – Reopen TN
In Texas, 70-year-old Lieutenant Governor, Dan Patrick, commented “Let’s get back to living.” He added he was willing to risk his survival to save the economy for future generations.
The protestors and Lieutenant Governor Patrick reinforced the belief Covid-19 was a virus affecting old people. Younger people didn’t have to be concerned. If they got it, it would be mild. The “Safer at Home” guidelines should be lifted. Businesses should reopen and the country should get back to normal. It didn’t matter if old people died.
Several Things Untrue Here
The first is, people of all ages are affected by Covid-19. While the percentage of younger people who die from it may not be as high as that of older people, the impact on younger people at times was really severe.
A prime example is the Broadway actor, Nick Cordero. He developed blood clots as a result of Covid-19 and had to have a leg amputated.
Another example are the young children who developed multi-system inflammatory syndrome as a result of Covid-19. Their immune systems responded more vigorously attacking the virus. That caused an inflammation of their blood vessels and affected the arteries around the heart.
In his comments, Lieutenant Governor Patrick implied several other things which are not true.
- Many older people are actually in pretty good shape physically.
- They are not frail, nor weak, nor unproductive.
- They do not need care.
- They want to continue to live productive lives and do not want to die prematurely.
- They don’t want to risk exposure to Covid-19 and suffer from the severe effects the sickest have experienced.
In fact, most older people don’t just sit around and do nothing all day. They lead very active lives. Some go out of their way to help others by volunteering in their communities. Some care for their grandchildren so their parents can work. Others continue to work because they desire to do so.
Two great examples are Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx, the medical professionals on the White House Coronavirus task force. The American public has seen how fit both of them are in their periodic briefings. Most fail to realize Dr. Birx is 64 years old and Dr. Fauci is 79.
By No Means are Older People Willing to Ruin the Economy for Future Generations
They don’t have to risk their survival. If the federal and state governments stood up and took the steps necessary to bring the Covid-19 crisis under control, the impact on the economy would have been minimal.
Yes, many older people realize the number of years they have left to live are limited. In certain instances, they might be willing to sacrifice their lives so others may live.
Would Contracting Covid-19 and Dying From it Be One?
It is doubtful if you look at the suffering of those with the most severe cases. Everything that has been written indicates they had great difficulty breathing. That’s why they were put on ventilators. If they were on ventilators for an extended period of time, their lungs could be damaged.
When you look at those who died from Covid-19, many had other conditions like heart disease and diabetes and had already suffered quite a bit from these other conditions. The pain from Covid-19 just added to the pain they already had and was worse.
What About Those Who Didn’t Die?
Many did not recover quickly. It took some time before they resumed their normal activities.
The news media showed people who had recovered being wheeled out of hospitals in wheel chairs. Did you ever wonder why they didn’t walk out?
Simply because they couldn’t. They didn’t have the strength to. Many were weak, confused, forgetful and out of shape. It probably was even an effort for them to get out of their hospital bed and into the wheel chair.
Other Things Not Widely Publicized
The lungs of those who were placed on ventilators may have been scarred and didn’t function properly. While normal function may have returned in a relatively short period of time for some, it may have taken a long time for others. There were also those whose lung function never returned to normal.
Some could not go straight home. They had to go either to an acute rehabilitation facility where they received therapy for several weeks or to a skilled nursing home where that therapy may have lasted several months.
What would Lieutenant Governor Patrick or the others who made those other comments done if they developed a severe case of Covid-19? Would they really have been willing to give up their lives or have life-long disabilities afterwards?
Other Ways Older People Faced Discrimination
Most states feared they would not have enough ventilators for all with the most severe cases of the virus. The question arose as to how medical professionals would determine which patients received the ventilators.
In New York, the guidelines for rationing ventilators did not permit a patient’s age as a determining factor.
That was not true in the state of Washington. Cassie Sauer, the Chief Executive Officer of the Washington State Hospital Association said
“If you are above a certain age and we have a shortage of ventilators, you don’t get one.”
Her comments stemmed from the guidelines issued by the state’s health department. Those guidelines instructed health care providers to look at a patient’s physical ability, mental faculties and general health.
Then, there was an older man confined to a wheel chair in Los Angeles. He regularly shopped at one supermarket. Prior to the Covid-19 crisis, the cashiers assisted him by bagging his groceries and hanging them on the back of his wheel chair.
When the guidelines for the crisis went into effect in California, cashiers were instructed not to help with bagging groceries. This man now had to bag his own. Because the bag was too heavy, there was no way he could put it on the back of his wheel chair. The cashier felt she couldn’t violate the guidelines and do it. Eventually, a security guard saw this man’s predicament and helped him.
Last, there was discrimination against older employees who continued to work.
The Covid-19 crisis triggered an economic shutdown. Some companies allowed their employees to work from home. Those that couldn’t had to furlough their employees and shut down their businesses. In some instances, older employees were furloughed first.
Older employees, especially those disabled, were given no help in applying for Unemployment Benefits.
Those companies providing essential services were allowed to remain open. Many of did nothing to safeguard employees from contracting the virus at work. The state and federal governments also did not establish many safety measures for these companies to follow. Where they did, they really didn’t enforce them.
Some employees unknowingly brought the virus into their places of work. It quickly spread to other employees. Older employees were more severely affected.
When the Covid-19 crisis started to wind down and companies were allowed to resume operations, they began to recall employees. Normally younger employees were recalled first and older employees were forced to remain off work longer.
Discrimination at Any Time is Bad — It’s Worse During a Crisis
How can we change this?
I believe there has to be concerted effort to help all Americans realize the value of older people. This has to start with our leaders, our pastors, our business leaders and the heads of our educational institutions and filter down from there.
Every American needs to realize older people in our country are not sitting or lying around waiting to die. They have much to contribute. They cannot be shuffled off to the side and be forgotten once they hit a certain age.
Until that happens, the United States will never achieve the greatness it is capable of.
If you have any comments on what you have read in this post, please email them to me. Also – if you have any ideas about subjects you would like to see discussed in future posts, please send me an email and let me know. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.