THE UNITED STATES LEADS THE WORLD IN COVID-19 CASES
As of March 30th, 2020, the United States now leads the world in total cases of the Severe acute respiratory syndrome also known as Covid-19 or the coronavirus. Here in the most politically, economically and militaristically powerful and influential country in the world, it is ironic that this nation-state exponentially leads the world with a reported 152,631 cases and 2,817 deaths and counting. The United States surpassed China which is where the virus originated and most importantly, Italy which was on the top of the chart with 101,739 cases and 4,050 deaths to date. Ironically South Korea, was recently ranked in the top 5 of countries with Covid-19 cases but to due its efficacy in containing this virus, South Korea is no longer on the top-10 global list of Covid-19 cases. South Korea’s success stems from its prioritization of testing. The country has 3,237 hospitals, in addition to private companies that provide test kits to 118 facilities and South Korea also provides drive-thru testing. South Korea’s prioritization of the virus catalyzed to nearly 15,000 people being tested on the daily basis since the first case of the coronavirus on January the 3rd, 2020. Even through, South Korea has a Universal Healthcare service, it was the free market reforms that was introduced to the country decades ago which incentivized the augmentation or increasement of hospitals and clinics in the country which incentivized these medical facilities to quarantine and treat patients immediately upon them testing positively for the virus. In addition, 94% of the hospitals are privately owned with the concomitance of 70% of secondary hospitals being owned and operated by the private sector. South Korea’s efficacy was mainly due to its private sector component of their health care system and the free market reforms in the country which created decades of economic growth in the country which enabled its citizens to afford the best healthcare possible even with a universal health care program and a single insurer. Contrarily in Italy, their Universal Healthcare system disincentivizes medical specialists, professionals and doctors from effectively containing the virus because hospitals have been mandated to provide medical services free of charge which creates unintended consequences of an unhealthy population with a vulnerable senior population that are left for dead due to their weak immune systems. The Servizio Saitario Nazionale (SSN) subsidizes the Italian healthcare system and for anyone who understands economics, when there are welfare-statist policies created for the betterment of a specific constituency, perverse incentives and unintended consequences arise. In this case, some of the unintended consequences of Italy's universal healthcare system is its corruption and the minimization of medical facilities in Italy where Italian doctors instead go overseas to find work. The irony behind all of this is that the United States doesn’t have a Universal Healthcare system but ironically; A) South Korea with its free market element was able to outperform the United States in containing Covid-19 and B) Italy with its failed universal healthcare system is even outperforming the United States. This could lead to a lot of consternation of how in the “best country in the world” that we have the most cases of Covid-19?
WHY IS THE UNITED STATES LEADING THE WORLD IN COVID-19 CASES?
The first case of Covid-19 was reported on January the 21st, 2020 and over two months later, the United States has failed in making testing highly accessible to its citizens. It has been statistically corroborated that as of March the 17th, the United States has tested only 125 people per million in comparison to South Korea which has tested over 5,000 people per million. Specifically, South Korea tested 274,000 people and the United States tested only 25,000 people. The million-dollar question is why has there been a limitation of testing in the “greatest country in the world” compared to South Korea? The Million-Dollar answer to this question is because of “Central Planning”, “The Regulators”, the “C.D.C. (Center for Disease Control) or to consummate or atomize the answer; Big Government. In the words of Ludwig Von Mises, “Every step which leads from capitalism toward planning is necessarily a step nearer to absolutism and dictatorship.” The eloquent and brilliant quote articulates and pontificates the occurrences in this economy now where states have imposed curfews for its citizens, designated businesses “essential” and “non-essential” and forced businesses to close down. Additionally, millions of Americans are out of work and millions of small business owners may not sustain their businesses due to the governmental imposed “lock downs” and “shut downs” in the name of Covid-19. On the other hand, South Korea is adequately able to contain the virus without shutting down its economy. Additionally, the United States government imposed regulatory barriers which is causing the inefficiency in containing the Coronavirus and they include obtaining; 1) The Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) which allows FDA to help strengthen the nation’s public health protections against CBRN threats by facilitating the availability and use of medical countermeasures needed during public health emergencies. 2) Meeting requirements of the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA). The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) regulates all laboratory testing (except research) performed on humans in the U.S. through the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA). In total, CLIA covers approximately 260,000 laboratory entities. The objective of the CLIA program is to ensure quality laboratory testing. 3) Testing for compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability (HIPAA). In stating these facts, whenever you have trade barriers of entry to enter into a specific sector of the economy, government has the universal propensity to be tedious and inefficient and when the Center for Disease Control (CDC) confirmed its first case on January the 21st, the aforementioned governmental agencies and the private medical facilities were not prepared for this and the regulatory process to pass the aforementioned barriers usually takes years. Hence, labs that wanted to conduct coronavirus tests had to get EUA approvals in the midst of the Declaration of a State of Emergency by the World Health Organization on January the 30th, 2020. Private laboratories had to cease testing until they received the proper approvals to proceed which immensely slowed down the process.
On March 13, 2020, even though President Donald Trump implemented a National State of Emergency, it took two months from January the 31st on March the 15th to be exact for the United States Department of Health Services (HHS) to waive sanctions and penalties on any medical facility that doesn’t comply with the governmental regulations which made testing more delayed and inaccessible. The objective of the CLIA program is to ensure quality laboratory testing. To sum up the regulations that medical professionals have to undergo for Covid-19 tests, Nancy Messonier of the Center for Disease Control stated; “We are working with the FDA, who have oversight over us, under the EUA, on redoing some of the kits. We obviously would not want to use anything but the most perfect possible kits, since we’re making determinations about whether people have COVID-19 or not.”
Another example of government’s complacency in containing COVID-19 is when Dr. Helen Chu in January began testing local residents in Seattle, Washington. Instead, Dr. Chu and her team were warned by the Center for Disease Control that these tests were illegal because they lacked approval by the Food and Drug Administration (F.D.A.)! Additionally, as of February the 25th, since the Center for Disease Control (the C.D.C.) has a monopoly on the diagnostic tests, this means that public health officials would have to follow their guidelines. Evidently, since then, the United States has ascended to be the #1 country with the most cases of the coronavirus which explains the negative results of governmental regulations in the healthcare system just like in Italy.
The Coronavirus is another empirical example in history of how big government always causes more confusion, sickness, death and destruction when it interferes with the liberties and freedom of its individuals in society and in the economy. South Korea prospered because of its private medical facilities exercising its freedom to begin efficient and accessible testing and immunization of its citizens WITHOUT a lockdown on its economy. On the contrary, the municipal, state and federal governmental officials and politicians seem to be focused on limiting the rights of its citizens by imposing curfews and closing businesses instead of testing its citizens and immunizing them so that they can be revived to their fullest health. In closing, the State is more dangerous than the Coronavirus and the two amalgamated together are a deadly combination for disaster.
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