One of the basic questions that many have confronted in the pandemic is: “How do we care for the least of these?” Some people are more vulnerable to the coronavirus than others: the elderly, those who live communally, those who have weakened immune systems, those without financial resources to get through months of little to no employment. For Christians, this recognition of vulnerability creates an imperative for extra care. We are called to feed the hungry and clothe and house the homeless, to take in the orphan and make sure the widow is taken care of. During the pandemic, we have had opportunities to act on this imperative in many areas.
Medical care is one important way we “care for the least of these.” People get sick and medicine restores their wholeness and health when it can. The vulnerabilities of illness do not define the person, but require that they receive extra care.
In the places where the pandemic has raged out of control, resource scarcity has threatened our ability to give extra care to the vulnerable. To be fair, resource scarcity has many sides. You can have enough now to share with others, but fear that you will not have enough for yourself in the future. Caring for the least of these does not presume abundance, but it does presume enough. But the resource scarcity in this pandemic is literal and immediate. There is a finite number of ICU rooms and ventilators. Those numbers cannot be changed quickly. Five ventilators and two ICU rooms cannot treat 100 COVID-19 patients at the same time.