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Reblogged:Corona: Government's Failing BOTH Ways

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Today, I start only the second week in which I will have kid-free time on weekdays ... since early March. Yesterday, my home state of Florida set yet another record for new cases. With case numbers also rising in several other states, the specter of new or extended "lockdowns" raises its ugly head.

Bearing that in mind, now might be a good time to consider (a) what lockdowns accomplished the first time around, and (b) what our government ought to have done with the time those months-long, "two week" lockdowns were initially supposed to have bought us.

Regarding the first, physician-economist Joel Zinberg ends a statistical analysis at City Journal as follows:

poster.jpg
An old poster explaining contact tracing during an Ebola outbreak. (Image by the CDC, via Wikimedia, public domain.)
The lockdowns led to wide unemployment and economic recession, resulting in increased drug and alcohol abuse and increases in domestic abuse and suicides. Most studies in a systematic literature review found a positive association between economic recession and increased suicides. Data from the 2008 Great Recession showed a strong positive correlation between increasing unemployment and increasing suicide in middle aged (45 -- 64) people. Ten times as many people texted a federal government disaster mental-distress hotline in April 2020 as in April 2019.

As we consider how to deal with resurgent numbers of Covid cases, we must acknowledge that mitigation measures like shelter-in-place and lockdowns appear to have contributed to the death toll. The orders were issued by states and localities in late March; excess deaths peaked in the week ending April 11. Reopening began in mid-April, and by May 20 all states that had imposed orders started to lift restrictions. In June, as the economy continued reopening, excess deaths waned.

Our focus must be on ensuring that the health-care system can simultaneously treat Covid-19 and other maladies and reassuring patients that it is safe to seek care. Otherwise, today's young physicians will have to start entering a new cause of death on death certificates -- "public policy." [links in original, bold added]
Zinberg is on the right track with his observation that the government is worsening this epidemic, but he doesn't go quite far enough, since he's mainly writing a critical piece.

The full scope of our government's folly becomes apparent only when we consider what it should be doing. And unfortunately, in addition to actively violating our rights with universal, indefinite, mass incarcerations, our governments have utterly failed to do what they could have and should have been doing regarding this disease from the start -- test, isolate, and track -- as Onkar Ghate and Elan Journo of the Ayn Rand Institute put it in The Hill:
Months of statewide lockdowns across the country were meant, in part, to buy time to ramp up testing and contact tracing with regard to the spread of COVID-19. Now, amid an upsurge of cases in Florida, Texas, Arizona and elsewhere, we still have nothing like a strategic approach to testing and tracing.

...

With the ability to test, isolate and contact-trace at scale, the United States could have identified and quarantined many who are infectious, significantly slowing the spread of the virus as states loosened lockdowns. Instead, the virus goes uncontained and we face the prospect of rolling shutdowns to come.

Imagine if the Army tried to fend off an invasion with a small fraction of the needed troops, antique weapons and no plan. That, in a nutshell, appears to be how our government is responding in the pandemic.
Within, Ghate and Journo point to a white paper that outlines in detail what a proper government response would look like, and why -- in sharp contrast to the right, which often seems unwilling to acknowledge the severity of the epidemic and the left, which seems to think the pandemic will go away if we treat sick and well alike as prisoners for long enough.

Our government is thus not only making this epidemic worse by locking down, it has failed to do what it can and ought to do by failing to test, isolate, and track active cases of infection.

-- CAV

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