SARS CoV2 aka COVID-19: Public Policy Based on Counting Only COVID-19 Risks is Irresponsible and Infantile
To start with one concrete example: how many lives have been saved by reduced traffic due to the lockdowns? The data is not yet solid enough to say much on this.
The rational point of view for deciding when to loosen/remove the lockdown is to look at NET deaths of all kinds—CV19, suicides, traffic fatalities, etc. And deaths that will come later this year and next year and the year beyond, as well established by decades of statistics from recessions, unemployment, etc. As well as the implications of delaying herd immunity.
These other non-CV19 deaths could be far worse than the CV19 deaths, with millions of lives destroyed financially by government force: the sledgehammer government lockdown order disalowing employment for millions regardless of age or risk or location or immunity. That leads to deaths for all sorts of reasons.
We will never have a full satisfactory answer, because the diagnosis of death by COVID-19 is sloppy at best. Death while infected with CV19 does not mean death because of CV19 and yet that is the way it is recorded, making the statistics dubious at best.
The death toll continues, but it is already much lower than expected (presumably because of mitigation) and so it would be infantile to continue steering this ship the same way while it is rapidly sinking for untold millions of people. It is not an either/or!
A public policy that looks only at COVID-19 deaths without regard to net deaths and other impacts is a public policy of an infantile mentality. Ditto for public policy that treats risk the same for everyone in every place.
Just how do you you value the lives degraded for a long time (or a lifetime) for millions of people? The small business owner whose life savings were invested in a destroyed business. The loss of a home by inability to pay mortgage. A ruined credit rating because bills could not be paid. Depletion of savings and retirement accounts to survive. Pyschological trauma of not knowing about food or shelter or myriad other needs. Mental health damage from inability to work. The sense of personal failure to support one’s famiily. The kid who cannot go to college because money all had to be spent on survival.
The inflexible lockdown is doing huge harm to tens of millions of people. There are so many things that could be tried without having to commit to an idiotic either/or solution for the entire country (or even an entire state). Los Angeles is not Lone Pine. NYC is not Boise, ID.
Harm to some vs harm to others is the issue at hand. Hard decisions exist in life, no one can ever say or know what the right decision is with certainty with something like this, and yet a decision has to be made, and very soon. Hindsight will tell us more, but showing that a better decision existed will NOT make the less optimal decision in the past less right—that’s a specious argument for idiots and politicians (sorry for the redundancy). If there are 100 viewpoints, a few may in hindsight be shown to have been better, but that is always the case for all decisions and no one can ever do much better than randomly in a situation like this with so many moving parts.
How much time do we really need to buy via lockdown and how can we ease the lockdown based on intelligent risk assessment (personal risk, economic risk, other factors). Who is modeling the total net harm and saying anything intelligent about it at the government level?
I have not verified these numbers, so go fact check them if disbelieved. They ought to be sobering to anyone proposing a months-long lockdown, which may just be kicking the can down the road.
... Folks, it is time to start winding down the lockdown for the young and healthy. We need herd immunity so that this virus does not come back in the fall when school starts. If we do not have herd immunity—at least 60% of us immune to COVID-19–we will be in trouble again in the fall. A lack of herd immunity may prove that the lockdown was the wrong thing to do. Time will tell. Strict quarantining of the sick and elderly are still needed.
For the rest of us, it is time to get back to work. Keep in mind that for every 1% uptick in the unemployment rate, there are estimates of up to 30,000 deaths from suicide, alcoholism and depression. Other studies have found that for every 1% rise in unemployment rate raises the risk of dying the next year by 6%. Perhaps the cure is worse than the illness? Again, time will tell.
If these statistics hold, it seems to me that a drawdown of the lockdown based on objective risk assessment along with mandatory facial coverings will be the smart move very soon.
As to the media, very few of them have any training in science, math, statistics, economics or any sort of critical thinking. They ask no productive questions that could move us forward as a nation. I don’t see the press playing a useful role—their focus is on defeating the other team and fundamentally venal.