Remember when Republicans fear-mongered about “death panels” they claimed would result from federal health-care legislation? It was PolitiFact’s “Lie of the Year” in 2009.
Now, though, some local authorities in the U.S. are apparently being forced to establish the equivalent of death panels, after GOP governors rushed to reopen their states amid the coronavirus pandemic.
One of those governors is Texas’ Greg Abbott, who was under tremendous political pressure from his GOP base to lift COVID-19 restrictions, led by the likes of salon owner Shelley Luther. Since then, Texas has become an epicenter for the virus, and the situation is particularly dire in Starr County, in the Rio Grande Valley.
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports: Starr County Memorial Hospital — the county’s only hospital — is overflowing with COVID-19 patients. The county has been forced to form what is being compared to a so-called “death panel.” A county health board – which governs Starr Memorial – is set to authorize critical care guidelines Thursday that will help medical workers determine ways to allocate scarce medical resources on patients with the best chance to survive. A committee will deem which COVID-19 patients are likely to die and send them home with family, Jose Vasquez, the county health authority, said during a news conference Tuesday. “The situation is desperate,” Vasquez said. “We cannot continue functioning in the Starr County Memorial Hospital nor in our county in the way that things are going. The numbers are staggering.”
More from San Antonio’s KSAT-TV: “Emergency rooms are holding patients for hours or days because, basically, we do not have any rooms inside the hospital to put those patients,” said Dr. Jose Vazquez, Starr County health authority. About 70,000 people live in Starr County, and more than 1,600 of its residents have tested positive for COVID-19. … “If we determine that the patient had a very, very small chance to make it alive, (we have) to discuss with that family and present the options, that perhaps it’s more sensible for the patient and for the family … to go to their home and to offer end of care, end of life care, and compassionate care to them,” Vazquez said.
Asked what his message would be to state leaders, Vasquez added: “We need action and we need it now.”
Watch the station’s report below.