Has the Tide Turned on Government Reactions to the Epidemic?

By September 9, 2020 Commentary

It is hard to pick up trends in the highly politicized, presidential election year in the US.  I look at a lot of stuff not just here, but around the world.  On other continents, especially in Europe, there is increased questioning of whether extreme lockdowns, school closures and other mitigation measures make any sense.  Sweden has gone from pariah to becoming the exemplar.  Sweden’s per capita mortality rate is actually better than many of the larger European countries.  And their population wasn’t forced to act like the end of the world was upon us.  Other European countries now openly suggest that they should have followed Sweden’s approach.  Similarly, in South America, things aren’t any worse in Brazil, which eschewed harsh measures, than in Peru, with a very extreme lockdown, or Argentina or other South American countries.  Australia and New Zealand are whacko outliers, but even there a growing segment of the population is questioning why they are placed under such comprehensive restraints.  Asia is a bit of a mystery, as no one knows what really has happened or is happening in China.  Other countries in the region seem determined to avoid lockdowns, while pressing other mitigation measures like expansive testing, tracing and quarantining.  Africa, with its largely younger populations, is generally trying to go about business as usual.

I suspect around the world coronavirus fatigue is setting in, bolstered by the recognition that for the vast majority of the general population it is nothing more than a cold.  In the US, I believe a similar attitude has spread, but we have a large faction that seems determined, for political reasons, to keep pretending that the epidemic is a life-dominating issue and that we have done a terrible job handling it.  The media tends to play to that latter faction.  People are voting with their feet–mobility patterns are way up, and families and other social groups are no longer willing to give up the personal contact that is a key source of enjoyment in life.  As I said in a post yesterday, I have no idea where the epidemic will go.  I do think we as a nation and in many states have severely over-reacted to the real danger, and in doing so, have done immensely greater harm to ourselves, including health harms.  All we can do is try to get as many people as possible to look at the objective evidence of risk, to understand the damage from the over-reactions and to think for themselves, not just accept the misinformation that is provided by many public health officials and the media.  If we do that, eventually enough people will come to their senses so that we can acknowledge the reality that we just have to accept and adapt to the presence of this pathogen, without regard to its future level of activity, as we have others, without destroying economies, and educational and social life in the process.

Join the discussion 3 Comments

  • M. McRae says:

    I wish I shared your optimism, but having learned that the UK just announced a second lockdown, I fear the tide hasn’t turned at all; it’s evident that many governments across the globe are still relying on terribly flawed computer models to set policy.

    I live in Ontario, Canada, and I get the sense that my government will follow the brits soon enough. I say this because Canadians aren’t really known for being strong advocates of sovereignty, autonomy, and freethought. Instead, we are a nation symbolic of passivity, deference, and groupthink.

    Hopefully, though, you’re right and I’m wrong. Unfortunately, I’ve been infected by a severe case of cynicism, which has biased my perception.

  • Ellen says:

    When the young adults in our county were rebelling, I knew that was a good thing. Was really weird to see the fossilized county commissioners who have been in office way to long and who had their fun… — was really weird seeing them fretting and complaining about the young people gathering and socializing! Hoping and praying we can get four of them out of office in November. Takes so much money to run for office; seems the ones who win are the ones getting money from those who will be their “masters” instead of us.

  • Alex says:

    M. McRae, this has been the most disheartening part of this pandemic. How easily we rolled over on the pseudo-science of lockdowns and masks. I watched with great dismay what Ontario is doing. Ford has acted much like a dictator while letting public health officials run the show. I’m afraid things aren’t much better here in Quebec. The insidious part? We had 345 cases today….and ONE death. The cases represent .0009% of the population. It’s laughable. Meanwhile the resident incompetent Poptart Lasagne posing as PM made an appearance to make sure we all remain in fear.

    As for the UK, they’re trying all sorts of things. By the time they get anything going, the virus will have burned through. The foolishness on display is incredible. Even there the case to death ratio is extremely low. Same with France, Italy, Spain and Germany. More cases, low hospitalizations and deaths. HELLO.

    Meanwhile, Sweden kicks back and has a beer.

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