Critical Care Capacity and Grocery Delivery

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Like almost everyone else on the planet, I want to avoid exposing others to me and me to others over the next little while. Then there’s the task of needing to go to the grocery store. I try not to touch or breathe on anything if I do have to go out. I squeeze the last bit of Purell onto my hands before and after I go to the store. If there’s a makeshift wash station in the store, I use it.

Of course, I’d rather be a good citizen and stay home entirely. So, like everyone else around me, I try to order online. This is where the huge spike in demand has caused issues of capacity. The earliest delivery is six days away. The earliest pickup, something similar. You need to be constantly refresh to get access to earlier times. Yes, there might be some openings earlier, but you have to look hard and try to get ahead of others.

It’s hard to understand how Covid-19 actually kills. It kills by strangling capacity in ICUs. We don’t live in ERs and ICUs so it’s difficult to imagine what is actually happening there, or what could happen if all of a sudden people need a specific type of care. But it happens just like the slots for pickup at Loblaws fill up. All of sudden, they’re full. If you need groceries (or a ventilator) you just need to wait before you can eat (or breathe).

The solution for grocery pickup or delivery is easy. You can throw more people at it. However, with Covid-19, people can be on ventilators and in critical care for days to weeks. The treatment doesn’t scale so easily.

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