Inequality During a Pandemic, Part II: Rationing Life-Saving Gear and Care

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Harvard Law School




The shortage of ventilators and personal protective equipment (PPE) in parts of the country has raised the most acute equality concerns regarding the treatment of people who are gravely ill. Some jurisdictions have more protective and life-saving equipment on hand than others do, but this pre-crisis distribution is a product of many factors beyond existing need, and more likely to be correlated with differences in population size, wealth, and expectations based on past health care needs rather than those called for by COVID-19. Many pre-crisis projections will inevitably be wrong given the volatile variables that determine the size and severity of an outbreak, such as intensity of travel and the degree of compliance with mitigation measures. There will be places where there are more than enough supplies and others, like New Jersey and Louisiana, that will be in desperate straits.

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