Counting the deaths

It’s a tragedy of the modern age that the deaths from certain policies or politics have to be counted in order to force the acceptance of new ideas and practices, but unfortunately, that seems to be the reality. Unfortunately, as the death count for civilians in Iraq showed, those numbers aren’t always received equally, with certain lives mattering more than others. Perhaps the lives of US citizens and residents which are lost as a result of the current government shut down will gain more traction, however?

In any case, I want us all to remember and as this progresses tabulate the human cost of the shutdown from the following:

  • Influenza – the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has already released an initial flu vaccine, but all additional monitoring and later releases are up in the air as long as the government is shut down. In short, we’ll be dealing with a half-implemented influenza program, and it might be revealing to note how many people die this year from the flu in comparison to other recent years.
  • Tropical Storm Karen the tropical storm is expected to make landfall tomorrow near the New Orleans area that was previously devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Karen is currently passing over waters the were abnormally warm at about this time of year which allowed Katrina to gain an unexpected degree of strength. Monitoring for that outcome appears to not be on the list of emergency services that will be provided by the federal government. Admittedly disaster management will be provided by the government, but in a state that historically has required federal assistance in response to tropical storms under these precise conditions (among others), any reduction in how much that help will likely be strongly felt.
  • Tornadoes – eastern Nebraska has already been hit by one tornado (which thankfully didn’t cause any deaths), but the storm system likely to produce more stretches from Oklahoma to Wisconsin and will remain a threat for the rest of today and through tomorrow. As with Tropical Storm Karen, gaps in federal emergency assistance are possible.
  • Cancer – the National Institute of Health will not be taking in any trial patients (who are usually children) for cancer treatment and remission prevention, during the shut down. It’s worth asking someone to take a look into the lives of those affected by that unfortunate result.

Of course, the question is, who could connect these dots and calculate the differences between what would have been inevitable in all of these situations and what these various government programs could have done. The sad answer is that the data that non-governmental sources would likely use would be information collected by the government and hosted on its websites (which are all of this moment, shut down). The government is unlikely to be allowed to take such measurements and others would likely rely on its information to make much of a statement about what’s happened.

In short, we’re likely losing lives because of this shut down, and we have no means of working out how many.

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