Age v. Equity Debate: Saving Lives from COVID-19

Kip Lynch ’22

Executive Editor

Generally speaking, I do not regard Connecticut as a state that has its house in order. One need only look at its capital, which has for years suffered from severe mismanagement under Democratic politicians. This past year, Mayor Luke Bronin gladly championed the “defund the police” movement and promptly cut Hartford’s public-safety budget by $2 million, 6% overall. The resulting spike in gun violence sent him running to the Governor for another handout, this time in the form of the State Police. Connecticut Public Radio said in a report that “The mayor blames the explosion of gun violence in his city on COVID-19.” It seems that education at Exeter, Yale, and Oxford does not mean much in the way of logic. Connecticut’s only saving grace is Governor Ned Lamont, at least when it comes to the distribution of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines.

In its vaccine distribution recommendations to states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advocated for the prioritization of essential workers and those with underlying conditions after those older than 65 years. To me at least, this was unobjectionable until I read their justification: to “promote justice” and “mitigate health inequities.” This recommendation is all the more objectionable when one realizes the complexities in defining these categories, which in turn only complicate a process that is supposed to be as quick as possible. Lamont made the right decision by ignoring the CDC’s recommendations and basing vaccine distribution solely by age.

He explained the problems encountered in defining categories: “A lot of complications result from states that tried to finely slice the salami and it got very complicated to administer…The CDC said grocery and food service workers [should be prioritized].” He then described how his office would receive calls from convenience stores or big box stores that similarly sell food, seeking to be prioritized.

As for the states that prioritized “equity,” one only need to look at California, that bastion of the Democratic Party, where special access codes have been provided to community organizations to distribute to predominately black and Latino areas. The codes enable one to sign up for appointments on the My Turn vaccine scheduling website. Those codes, somehow, found their way into the hands of well-off residents, who then distributed the codes among themselves before getting shots. The Los Angeles Times reports that “establishing fairness in the vaccine distribution process has loomed large over California’s vaccine roll out…But deep inequities have still emerged in vaccine administration.”

The Editorial Board of the Wall Street Journal, perhaps the only mainstream media outlet that has not succumbed to left-wing bias, praised Lamont’s decision, stating “The Democratic Governor is right that complexity is the enemy of speed. It’s also the enemy of equity. Decisions about who is or isn’t an ‘essential worker’ are arbitrary…Bravo to Mr. Lamont for thinking of the larger public good, and understanding that simple can be smart.” The editorial noted that while minorities die at significantly higher rates than white people, “outcomes differ far more by age than race or underlying conditions. A 58-year-old black retiree is 10 times more likely to die from the virus than a 40-year-old black worker.”

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