Days of Change

Limited Time Offer | May 20, 2020

Two months after my last post, all the states did engage in various types of lock downs and most are now lifting them. New York State is going to spend another month phasing out restrictions while New York City, the other global epicenter, is still pretty much on restriction.

One of the problems I had with the lock down strategy is that it misinterpreted what “social distancing” intended to solve. Keeping apart was intended as a method to reduce the spread of COVID-19 cases just as the number of sick people was about to peak. There was little that could be done to prevent deaths, but hospital deaths due to lack of sufficient treatment (like in Italy) could be halted by reducing the number of communicable interactions.

Social distancing more or less worked. However, the lack of total voluntary social distancing triggered a panicked response by the government to keep people from the places where they could gather. That lock down drove us from under 6 million unemployed to about 26 million. While social distancing is sustainable for some time, lock downs are not. Remember, the advocates of social distancing even pointed out that people would probably still be infected until herd immunity was reached, just at a slow enough rate for effective hospitalization.

Governments in many states thought they could end an epidemic by lock down. That is basically impossible. The rest of the world will keep coming to the United States even if we did all the lock down things. Plus, people want to be free. A disease with a mortality rate of 2-5 times that of the flu just is not scary enough to take away the freedom of people. At the same time, the most vulnerable populations in New York nursing homes were being exposed and dying from COVID-19 patients reintroduced by order of Governor Cuomo.

What was originally an artificial depression is becoming a real recession due to businesses now out of business from extended lock downs. If a vaccine is months to years away and magic bullet treatments don’t exist, human beings will have to get along the old fashioned way. We’ll go out and interact and many will get “it” (like the quarter of NYC with antibodies already) until we reach herd immunity. We just need to protect those 70 and older in poor health who have a relatively high chance of dying. A good economy helps when you need to perform extraordinary measures to protect a vulnerable population.

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    May 2020
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