Had COVID-19 unleashed its full fury on every region of the United States at once, the situation now would be nearly unmanageable — and much more deadly than we hope will be the case.
Fortunately, the disease is progressing at different stages in different places. Large cities such as New York and New Orleans are bearing the brunt of the coronavirus now. Other regions will experience the epidemic’s peak later.
That makes our American tradition of watching out for our neighbors especially important.
During the weekend, it was revealed that the state of Oregon is shipping 140 medical ventilators — life-saving devices for those in the most critical phases of COVID-19 — to New York City.
Health care professionals in New York need the ventilators badly. As of Sunday, there were at least 60,000 COVID-19 patients there.
Oregon, with slightly more than 1,000 cases on Sunday, is in better shape. Officials there are to be commended for doing what they can to help Oregonians’ neighbors across the continent. We hope those in other states where the virus is just beginning to climb up the left side of the bell curve will emulate them.
At some point, presumably after New York City has begun the recovery process, Oregon may need those ventilators badly.
That is where the federal government, which also has been supplying health care professionals with critical equipment and supplies, comes in. Federal officials should set up a mechanism through which states able to help others can do so as easily as possible — and can get their resources back, usable immediately, when they are needed.
Knowing that will happen will encourage other states to help places where COVID-19 is at its peak.