Saturday, June 27, 2020

Add It All Up - the Real Costs of Covid-19

Things we know - people on holiday are also taking a holiday from Covid-19.  Many of them take a break from wearing masks or social distancing.  Whether gathering on some beach or strolling the streets of a resort town or downing a few beers at a tavern, they're likely to concentrate and, in the crowds they're mingling with, there is apt to be someone or a few someones shedding the virus.

We've got all the object lessons we need. Thanks Florida. Thanks Texas. Thanks to all the states that opened up and are now heading back into lockdown.  And special thanks to all those irresponsible people who have shown that exercising their "constitutional rights" can turn into an economy-wrecker even as it taxes healthcare systems to the breaking point.

Here on beautiful Vancouver Island we're starting to see another wave - the summer tourists. Some, it seems, have heard that for a period of several weeks we were sort of Covid-free. What a great place for a summer holiday.

For a number of these little, coastal towns, tourism revenue is the bread and butter of the local economy.  Many businesses make their real money between the beginning of June and Labour Day. If something goes wrong they may not be around next year.

Things change in the course of a pandemic. For the first few months people in my town were vigilant - masks, gloves, social distancing, hand sanitizer, hand washing, isolating at home.  The whole deal. And it paid off. We drove Covid-19 into the ground and many other similarly transmissible viruses disappeared with it.

Only the sun has returned here and, with it, those masks are disappearing as though they had reached some 'best before' date.  There's probably no way of knowing how many of those mask-liberated people are locals, how many are summer people but either way a return of Covid-19 seems inevitable. Everything we achieved may go straight out the window.

I wonder what that's going to cost?  How does the summer tourism revenue stack up against the prospect of another lockdown and another struggle for the healthcare system?

Time magazine looked at a Boston-area woman who developed Covid-19. Hers was not a severe case. She did not require hospitalization. She did, however, make three visits to the emergency ward, a bunch of tests, and medications that she took at home. Her final bill came out just shy of $35,000. That's a lot of money when you're between jobs with no insurance.  Remember that 'el Diablo Naranja' has chosen this auspicious moment to try to kill off Obamacare.

In Canada the costs are way less but still substantial.  Covid-19 cases require special wards and some patients wind up on ventilators in intensive care units. A day in ICU can cost between $5,000 and $14,000. Daily ward rates run from $3000 to $7000. Even that adds up pretty quick.

While those numbers are, for this discussion, plainly anecdotal, they demonstrate that every new Covid-19 case we may experience from summer tourism will inflict a hefty cost beyond the economic costs of a second possible lockdown.  How those costs would compare to whatever tourism revenue we receive over the summer is unclear. Then there's a question of  to whom that tourism revenue accrues and who picks up the tab for the costs in the aftermath.  Another example of "socialism for the rich'?


Trailblazer said...

The real costs of Covid19 will not be fully known for years.
Hospitalisation is just the start particularly in countries whose healthcare is already stretched to the limit.
Add in long term healthcare as the virus continues to cripple countries that are starting to deny extended healthcare.
The financial and social costs will be unfathomable as the economy as we know it is turned upside down with competing solutions that could border on military rule.
We are in uncharted territory , throw the dice.


the salamander said...

.. people via social media.. and even close friends 'wonder' about my seemingly extreme interest in provinces other than where I live.. Regardless, British Columbia and Alberta fascinate me.. draw me in for many many many reasons, Its probably the 'frontier aspect' & how well they have treated me.. and my family. The splendour ! Yes yes.. I started out as a tourist as a very young kid when two aunts took 5 kids in an Oldsmobile Super 88 all the way to Tofino and we spent a day too in the museum in Victoria.. unforgettable.. tatoo'd in my 11 year old perceptions of the world. I had swum in the Pacific Ocean ! (There is much more to it than that.. but)

Thus I pay mucho attention to Tourism, Hospitality in Beautiful British Columbia. It is also the only place on this planet that I have run aground on in a large keelboat or eaten such astonishing clam chowder. I lived, worked, thrived in Vancouver, became a big mountain skier when Whistler was a mountain with a gas station only at its base.. right by the gondola base. I would live on the big island in a hearbeat,.. if only The Boss (well nevermind..) At the same time.. if native big islanders 'suggested' we don't come out for an exploratory visit (to sell The Boss) I would never dream of such a trip or think to intrude. Its a truly nasty conundrum.. BC is desperate for the tourism dollars, a gigantic aspect of their economy.. as is Alberta.. yet both provinces must survive, adapt, evolve and regrow around this pandemic. Who would dream of violating this ? That would require insulting fellow Canadians ! I defend British Columbians daily .. so why would I dream of insulting them in person..? I rage at commuters speeding through 'short cuts' through our communities as if getting home to their children & community is more important than the safety of children in somebody else's community.. bizzaro behaviour & 'thinking'

Yes.. we would love to visit PEI in July this year.. but but but.. Perhaps we can find a 'fit' in Tobermory.. or Prince Edward County or Point Pelee.. and perhaps next year.. Turks & Caicos Islands.. its wait and see.. and listen.. learn

Anonymous said...

If Alberta has its way the province will be stopping people at the border deciding who comes into the province who does not. Many Albertans wan to separate from the rest of the country. Poor, poor Alberta is terribly tired of being treated as a second class province when they are leading the country in every way possible so they say. Anyong

The Disaffected Lib said...

Anyong, Albertans only want to separate when they see high world oil prices and a bountiful future. That horse has left the barn. They know Athabasca is their very own Love Canal on a Biblical scale. They've squandered the promise of Alberta and, at every step, they've blamed it on everyone but themselves.

Anonymous said...

I am glad you totally understood my. meaning. Anyong