Toilet Paper, Prevention, and Inconvenience

I just got back from the grocery store.

My family was almost out of toilet paper, and as COVID-19 events begin to move at a quicker pace, I decided I’d better go buy more before panic shopping really takes hold in northern Vermont. Turns out it was a good call. I managed to get some TP, but there wasn’t much left. 

I heard interesting comments at the store, and I’ve seen them on the tragic dumpster fire that is Facebook. Complaints about closing down college campuses in favor of online classes. Frustration that the local hospital is limiting visitors. Wondering if local elementary and high schools will make the “stupid” choice to close up for a while.

There’s a phrase that was attached to these thoughts: “It’s not even that bad yet.”

To which I say, “Yeah, exactly.”

The most effective (and cheapest) approach to health care is prevention. But it’s not sexy.

Ideally, when you take a preventative approach to something like COVID-19 and come out the other side of the situation, the reaction should be, “Huh. Nothing much happened.” And nothing much happens because you closed the campus for a few weeks, you limited access to the most vulnerable, and you denied access to the Petri dishes of viruses and bacteria that exist in every town in America.

Along the way, you saved a shit-ton of money. For every dollar that gets spent on prevention, it saves nearly $6 that would typically be spent on doctor visits, medicine, etc … And that’s under normal circumstances. At a global level, the money spent stalling out COVID-19 before it gets “that bad” is worth every single cent.

Is the situation we’re facing incredibly inconvenient? Yes. We’re being collectively pushed out of our comfort zones. That’s not a thing people enjoy, as a rule. But it’s time to suck it up, I guess. Better safe than sorry, right? And I say this as someone who does not have a financial cushion to fall back on if I’m out of work for a while. It’s a short term setback, though, to improve things over the long term. 

I think we’re worth that.

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