The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Ventilators
—A Life and Death Choice

Mar 30, 2020

The COVID-19 virus is vastly more contagious than the common flu. Hospitalization required is significantly higher. Of those hospitalized, larger numbers require Intensive Care Unit (ICU) treatment. And most of those require ventilators.

Having a ventilator means life or death for COVID-19’s sickest victims. In U.S. cities hardest hit, patients are already being denied access to ventilators.

States, cities and counties have been calling for assistance with ventilators for weeks. In the face of numbers that showed New York needing as many as 30,000, the Feds sent them 400.

Of course, Trump and his cronies understood early on that this expensive equipment would be at a premium. Because companies are allowed to profit on them, even in a crisis, the ventilators run between $18,000 and $48,000 dollars apiece.

It is estimated that at this time, the U.S. needs 100,000 ventilators. These are expensive, sophisticated machines built with 156 parts from 14 countries around the world. Major international suppliers have backlogs of orders at this time.

In hospitals across the U.S., administrations are putting out policy statements to protect themselves from lawsuits. At a major hospital in Detroit, they warn that those with underlying health problems will be on a “not eligible” list for having access to a ventilator. Those with severe heart, lung, kidney and liver failure, terminal cancer, severe trauma, and the old, will be denied access if other patients need ventilation.

This society sacrifices people every day in the service of profit. Now, the marginal population to be sacrificed is the elderly and very ill. While the wealthy men who own and drive this economy will get treatment, in this crisis, being middle-class is not enough. In the words of one administrator, “those unlikely to survive” (the virus) won’t get a chance.

Do we accept this? Do we let the tiny minority who control the wealth decide to continue business and war as usual? To pay one and a half billion for fighter jet planes while, in Trump’s words, “government officials expressed concern about the possibility of ordering too many ventilators, leaving them with an expensive surplus”?!

Or do we organize, sick or not, to tear this rotten system apart, to pull it up by the roots and refuse to let them make one damn more life-and-death decision!