The numbers around coronavirus in America have been sensationalized to the point of making Americans near de-sensitized. And with those numbers comes continued politicizing of policy, and demands for a national response. But the data we have shows that a One-Size-Fits-All policy doesn’t work for America.
Models show us horrific death rates, and incomprehensible infection rates. Then, models show us much smaller rates of death and infection. What are we to trust? Researcher Neill Ferguson from Imperial College in London said deaths in the UK would top 500,000 and would be over 2 million in the United States. Politicos and pundits ran with those numbers, pushing fear and the need for national lockdowns.
A week or so later? Ferguson revised his numbers, claiming deaths in the UK would be somewhere around 20,000. The reason, he stated, was social distancing.
Just one problem with that, as was noted by former New York Times reporter Alex Berenson. At the time of Ferguson’s revision, the lock down in the UK had only been in effect for two days. Also, a revision from 500K to 20K is not a revision. It’s an admission that your first numbers were simply wrong.
The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation said there could be between 100,000 and 240,000 deaths in the United States. The White House took these numbers seriously, and used them to devise their policies of shutdowns and social distancing. Recently, the IHME revised their models. Now, they say 60,000 to 124,000 people might die.
Yes, they cut their numbers in half. Supporters claim that it proves social distancing works. Others note, rightfully so, that social distancing was incorporated into their initial numbers:
When numbers are cut in half, it seems rational to question those who came up with the initial numbers. But one thing is not in question: No one really knows what works and what doesn’t. No one really knows how coronavirus is affecting the whole of America. Doctors were convinced that ventilators were needed to keep people alive. Then, doctors noted that death rates on ventilators were approaching 50%. They learned that putting a coronavirus patient on a ventilator was not necessarily the best approach. The facts changed, so they changed their course of care.
So why not the same for America? As of writing this, there are 427,000 cases of coronavirus in the United States. But 160,000 of those cases are in New York. In the tri-state area (New Jersey, New York City and Connecticut,) there are 222,618 cases of coronavirus, more than half the nation’s total.
If half of the cases are in one geographic area, why can’t Midwest states be open for business to some degree? Why was it/is it necessary for us to have one national policy, when the nation is not dealing with the same issues in every corner?
The answer was not, and is not, shut it all down. While the damage done by coronavirus is heart-wrenching, the damage done by destroying businesses and careers is also heart-wrenching. Restaurants gone for good. Small businesses on Midwest Main Street closed forever. Who knows what savings accounts will look like when we’re done with this. And in each of those stories are people who are affected; friends, neighbors and loved-ones, whose lives are forever different.
The question is, did they have to be? And the follow up question is, can we do something about it now? The faster society opens up, the better the opportunity is for those friends and neighbors and loved-ones to pick up the pieces and build back. This can happen in many parts of the country, if we eliminate the One-Size-Fits-All mindset.
Safety matters. Liberty matters more. Most people paraphrase Ben Franklin, stating that those who would give up liberty for security will get neither and deserve none. (Though there are different interpretations of what he was referring to.) The better application comes from economist Thomas Sowell, who in his book “A Conflict Of Visions” stated, “There are no solutions. There are only trade-offs.”
The key here is that the trade-off should not be made by the government, but rather, the individual. When society opens, many Americans will continue to stay home out of fear, or perhaps out of new-found habit. Others may be raring to return to their favorite barstool, or to buy new clothes because they have seriously tired from wearing sweatpants. Some might be looking for a weekend at a local hotel to get away from their kids. (They love them and all, but honestly, enough is enough.)
But society must open in order for individuals to make that decision. Some societies – some states, like in the Midwest – might be more inclined to make that call than the tri-state area. They should be encouraged to do so, and Governors need to recognize that leadership is not waiting for CDC guidelines and virus-spread modeling that has proven unreliable, if not wholly unreasonable.
There is no guaranteed safety in a liberty society. And there is absolutely no safety without a liberty society. Government needs to stand down. Governors need to bring their states back online. Citizens need to understand the trade-off, accept it and demand an end to One-Size-Fits-All.