It is never easy for clinicians to allocate resources, yet we do it all the time. We make choices as to how we spend our time, attention, and energy, the expertise of our specialists and subspecialists, and who we believe can be saved with or without heroic measures. The unfortunate reality is that any scarcity of resources is exacerbated in a time of crisis. Resources are more limited in a time of crisis, requiring decisions that would not ordinarily be made. The scarcity questions that arise in a crisis may be the same as in non-crisis situations but to a greater degree (e.g. patients competing for limited clinician attention), or they may be different in kind (e.g. ventilators supply for sick patients is not entertained in normal times). Furthermore, there are unique features of the COVID-19 pandemic that exacerbate resource shortages. Many of the masks, testing kits, and ventilators in short supply are produced on a regional or even global scale and are affected by stockpiling, supply chain issues, and politics. Since the pandemic is predicted to be limited to a relatively short time period, governments and suppliers face the economic question of whether it is worthwhile to buy or produce more resources if the investment or infrastructure will not be needed in the future.