'Lockdown' and 'Liberation' Aren't America's Only Choices

We need to think of more targeted approaches to protect high-risk people and our freedoms.


Let's face it: There is no perfectly safe way for America to come out of its lockdown. None of the expected panaceas—a treatment or a vaccine—are in sight. America is nowhere close to having South Korea's mass testing capacity that allowed that country to "flatten its curve." And the longer America stays hunkered down, the more the goal of herd immunity (even if it were possible) becomes elusive, because not enough people are getting exposed and developing resistance to the virus.

Yet the economic devastation from the lockdown is becoming more intolerable, with not just livelihoods but lives on the line.

So what should America do, besides praying for a summer miracle? Start thinking of the answer not as a binary choice between "lockdown" or "liberation." We need more targeted approaches to contain high-risk activities and protect high-risk populations while giving ordinary Americans more—not less—freedom to figure out when and how they want to return to work and some semblance of normal life.

The lockdown was originally imposed because the pandemic caught America by surprise and hospitals were simply not equipped to cope with the onslaught. America already has more than 1,000,000 infected cases and over 63,000 dead.

This "achievement" has come at a hefty price. About 27 million Americans have filed for unemployment, basically wiping out all the job gains since the Great Recession. And economic output is down a stunning 30 percent. Clearly, things can't go on this way much longer before the economic pain becomes intolerable.

Yet, notes Avik Roy, president of the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity (FREOPP), every major plan to phase out the lockdown relies on some combination of a vaccine, a cure, and mass testing. Given that corona is a virus, there is no guarantee that a vaccine will ever emerge—and if it does, it will probably take at least a year and a half. A treatment is more likely but is still months away. Meanwhile, America is performing fewer than 200,000 tests every day; the White House, in a much-hyped Monday announcement, promised to ramp that up to just 267,000 by the end of May. Getting to South Korea's level will require 1,000,000 tests daily—not to mention tracing all the contacts of those who test positive and putting them in quarantine.

The Harvard Safra Center for Ethics' bipartisan "Roadmap to Pandemic Resilience," co-authored by Nobel laureate Paul Romer, wants five million tests per day by early June and 20 million tests per day by August, to perform repeated screening of the population to catch any secondary outbreaks. That would be terrific, but it seems like wishful thinking right now. As for herd immunity, it's uncertain how long immunity after exposure lasts so it's unclear whether population-wide immunity can even be achieved.

Yet Americans can't hide forever in their homes. In fact, several more months of a blanket lockdown might mean piling an economic catastrophe on top of a health catastrophe.

So what should America do?

The first and paramount thing is to prevent health care facilities—hospitals and nursing homes—from becoming superspreaders themselves. Even in the absence of a pandemic, patients pick up 1.7 million infections in American hospitals annually and 99,000 of them die.

Jonathan Tepper, founder of Variant Perception, points out in a deeply researched article that in Wuhan, the original epicenter of the disease in China, around 41 percent of the first 138 patients diagnosed in one hospital contracted the virus in the hospital itself. Likewise, one reason why Italy's Lombardy region might have been worse hit than neighboring Veneto is that Lombardy transported 65 percent people who tested positive into hospitals, compared to 20 percent in Veneto, exposing the virus to the entire chain of health care workers, from ambulance drivers to paramedics to doctors. A group of Lombardy doctors wrote in The New England Journal of Medicine that "hospitals might be the main COVID-19 carriers."

It is too early to find reliable stats about coronavirus infections generated from American hospitals, but a Wall Street Journal investigation found that nursing homes in just 35 states accounted for 10,783 deaths—more than 20 percent of all U.S. fatalities. Data from five European countries shows that nursing care homes account for 42 percent to 57 percent of all coronavirus fatalities.

Meanwhile, in Canada's largest two provinces, Ontario and Quebec, elderly patients in nursing homes make up about three quarters of all the deaths from COVID-19.

Preventing health care facilities from becoming the gasoline on the coronavirus flames has implications both for patient care and for providers. On the patients' end, it is vital to emphasize non-hospital settings for less severe cases and to fashion coronavirus-dedicated hospitals for the more severe ones, as South Korea did nationwide and as some hospitals have come around to doing in America.

On the provider end, America must race to procure protective gear—masks, gowns, glasses—for frontline staff. Shortages compromise not only their safety but their patients' too. Similarly, until America can build ubiquitous testing capacity, it will have to prioritize testing medical staff. It is less important to chase down asymptomatic carriers, the celebrated writer-cum-surgeon Atul Gawande points out. South Korea didn't.

Meanwhile, hospitals also need to beef up their hygienic practices and embrace a "checklist" that Gawande has long been crusading for. This simple and powerful idea, which has resulted in a stunning drop of hospital infections when tried, would involve creating a coronavirus-appropriate protocol of hygiene—washing hands, disinfecting the patient before touching, wearing masks and gowns—and then having physicians attest that they have adhered to every item on it by check-marking each one before interacting with patients.

In addition to this focus on hospitals, any reopening plan has to beware of other superspreading venues, such as mass transit, and superspreading events, such as games, concerts, and campaigns.

Furthermore, around 78 percent of the coronavirus deaths are concentrated in those over 65. Indeed, there is a 22-fold difference in the death rate between 25-to-54-year-olds and the over-65 cohort, with children facing very few deaths. Yet blanket lockdowns treat everyone as if they are equally affected.

Given the differential impact, Roy recommends a strategy that allows young people to get back to normal life as much as is safely possible. This means reopening schools and lifting stay-at-home orders for all but the elderly or those with underlying conditions that make them more susceptible.

Of course, the young and the old are not sealed off populations. Indeed, most young people have high-risk individuals such as elderly relatives among their close circle of loved ones. So there is no denying there will be an all-around increase in risk for everyone after reopening. Yet some increase in risk might be worth taking: If the economy decays beyond a point, it'll eat into the country's medical capacity to fight the disease—not to mention its capacity to hand costly rescue packages to affected workers.

Whatever the downside of the lockdown, its one very great advantage is that it vastly accelerated the national learning curve on radical social distancing and other precautions. Preventative practices have become part of the national fabric; even if the lockdown is relaxed, few people will go back to their pre-coronavirus lifestyle. So it is not pollyannish to believe that this, combined with greater precautions against superspreaders, will diminish the toll from any follow-up outbreaks.

Rolling back the lockdown will also give businesses the freedom to come up with innovative adaptive strategies. Essential businesses that were allowed to remain open have found all kinds of ways to enhance consumer safety—plexiglass spit barriers at grocery store check out counters, disinfecting every cart. There is every reason to believe that "inessential" businesses will do the same when given the chance.

Coronavirus is a cruel microbe. But we will have to find more clever ways of fighting it than mass captivity.

A version of this column originally appeared in The Week.

Bonus reading: Reason Foundation just released its working paper for an evidence-based approach for easing lockdowns. It takes a comprehensive look at which approaches have worked and which haven't.

NEXT: Dems' Hazard Pay Proposals Are a Recipe for a Lot Fewer Essential Workers

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  1. //Whatever the downside of the lockdown, its one very great advantage is that it vastly accelerated the national learning curve on radical social distancing and other precautions.//


    We totally needed a lockdown to learn to stay home when sick, wash our hands, and not cough on strangers.

    1. We really don’t know anything more than we knew 4 weeks ago. Same basic treatment guides, same at risk groups. We have a better idea at mortality is lower and penetration is higher than we thought it would be but even than not sure on that. We do have an antibody test but know real widespread knowledge rate on false positives. Most of these questions will take years of study to get real answers. The sit and wait for more knowledge crowd is going to sit and wait us to the dark ages.

      1. Agree.

        The lockdowns were an irrational reaction brought about largely by media hysteria and political opportunism in an election year. John Ioannidis was one of the most prominent skeptics and, as we obtain more data, it seems he was one of the few who called it right.

        //“If that is the true rate,” [Ioannidis] wrote, “locking down the world with potentially tremendous social and financial consequences may be totally irrational. It’s like an elephant being attacked by a house cat. Frustrated and trying to avoid the cat, the elephant accidentally jumps off a cliff and dies.”//

        1. The skeptics were right. But, we continue to make it worse by refusing to admit that. This whole thing is starting to get scary. Some of these dumb asses will never want this too end. They are that crazy.

          1. Saw a headline today from, I believe the Atlantic, that Republicans are actually wanting to work people to death. They are growing desperate as more and more people are waking up to the actual data and getting more worried about the economic impacts then the virus. Did you see Newsom threw a hissy fit and put all of California back into a timeout because they wanted to go to the beaches.

            1. I hope people just start ignoring this bullshit in mass and tell the politicians and the Karens to fuck off. That would greatly reaffirm my faith in America

              1. Oh and Inslee extended the lockdowns in Washington state despite the vast slowdown in new cases, the vast increase in recovered cases and the major slowdown in deaths. I can’t help but think he only did this to spite Trump and the conservative east side (and rural) areas of Washington.

                1. I find it interesting that 6 weeks later several stores are just now requiring face mask, whats the purpose at this late date. None

                2. Meanwhile, here in Seattle it was a pretty quiet Mayday.

                  Those anarchist pussies always wear masks anyway when they’re smashing windows, so you’d think they’d be out in force today. Too scared to stand up for their warped ideology I guess. Cowed by government edict. How ironic.


              2. I think people are ignoring already, i drove by a park today and several people were having a picnic together, Oh MY, and yesterday every store was packed

              3. Reporting from Day 1 of Gov. Pritzker’s mandatory mask decree going into effect:
                Neighbors – no masks
                Village employees – no masks
                Teachers (picked up school supplies) – no masks
                Mailman – no mask

                Out of almost 2 dozen people, 2 were *using* masks (a few, ~5, had masks around their necks). One was the crazy lady that they’re always evicting from the train station who’s always wearing a mask and the other was taking the trash out at McDs.

                Masks? Masks! We don’t need no stinking masks!

            2. My mistake it was worse than the Atlantic, it was The Week. And I skimmed the story and if anything the headline is better than the author’s take.

              1. Some dummy at The Atlantic said we should remain in full lockdown indefinitely, calling it ‘science.’

                Tell you about how well she understands science: A very logical video from some CA doctors that disagrees with her point of view was removed by Youtube because it was ‘misinformation.’ So now Youtube is deciding what is misinformation. The fact that she would use youtube’s removal as an act of ‘science’ is unbelievable believable.

                ‘Science does not stick to their theories and models when the models prove wrong over and over again and when the data changes dramatically.

                1. Do you have a citation or link to this person who claimed that we should remain in full lockdown indefinitely?

            3. Atlantic doesn’t even pretend it isnt an authoritarian rag. Why the obvious cast of commentators here are letting the visage of their wanting liberty slip when they post Atlantic articles.

            4. This would be the same ‘The Atlantic’ that recently came out and said that China’s path toward Internet regulation was preferable to the U.S.’s?

              1. I saw that. No I was wrong the article I referred to was from The Week. But the Atlantic article on China is almost as bad a take.

            5. Just lIke governor Whitman threw a fit over the protest and said because of that she was extending the opening till the 22nd that is not science based that is based on her hatred of people who disagree with her

              1. She just announced she is extending it again to the 28th.

                1. GOOD GREIF did she have any scientific reason other than saying she’s listening to the scientist while not telling us what the science is, just like Newsom.

                2. the 28th she did that to capture the memorial weekend holiday She is a bitch. I hope no one follows cops can’t ticket everyone

        2. Exactly right. If what we now know was known a few months ago, there would not be any lockdowns (assuming the politicians were willing to accept reality instead of cynically capitalizing on an opportunity to be the petty tyrants they’ve shown themselves to be).

          Every serology study that has been done has shown that the prevalence of the antibodies is far higher than the number of confirmed cases (ranging from 10 to 85 times higher), which in turn means that the actual death rate is far lower than reported, and that the virus was probably extant for much longer than anyone thought, spreading through the population quietly (and starting the herd immunity that governments are now working so hard to prevent). There have been a large number of reports of people having had a mysterious flu-like illness that wasn’t the flu (they tested negative for flu) as early as December. While anecdotes are not data, it does support the notion that the virus was spreading long before it “officially” appeared.

          None of the cases was bad enough to raise any alarm bells… if large numbers of people with this unknown flu-like illness were having to be intubated or if they were dying, it certainly would have caught the medical industry’s attention before China gave us the bad news about their latest gift to the world.

          1. Correct. Anything other than a full opening while protecting the vulnerable will result in m ore death, not less. We could have dull immunity in the working group within 4-6 months, which would make the world safe for those at risk. Slow opening will, as you suggest, just slow it down, inspiring false confidence and therefore leading to a repeat ravage in the fall/winter.

      2. Remember, the antibody tests dont count if it lowers the IFR numbers, see Bailey articles.

        1. Due to false positives of course.

    2. that’s a good billboard.

  2. Fuck off, slaver.

    1. You fuck off. Go tour a covid-19 emergency room and leave the adults to discuss this.

      1. And do you consider that some great threat? Because the data suggests that most likely outcome would be either not catching the infection or even if he were to catch it he would be asymptomatic (50-75 percent are asymptomatic according to recent research). Even if he does become symptomatic, the odds are that the infection would only be mild. In fact, research states that out of all those infected less than 5% will require hospitalization. Of all infected less than 0.6% will die. So touring an ER would have very little likelihood of a poor outcome.

        1. Until it isn’t = In fact, research states that out of all those infected less than 5% will require hospitalization. Of all infected less than 0.6% will die.

          It will take some time to perform a good retrospective look. My thought is that we will ‘discover’ a number of things. Case in point: Nursing homes became death traps. The Kirkland nursing home event was a signal, not noise. We thought it was noise.

  3. A country can re-open if they do widespread testing of the population and contact tracing with isolation of those who had contact with those infected. But in the US, there are way too many people with a “Hell No!” attitude to anything that we can not do that. We will re-open and suffer the health consequences. We as a society have made that choice.

    1. Fuck off slaver. Wide spread and trace testing is a near impossible task in a well run country of 350 million without total draconian civil liberty intrusions especially with the gestation period and number of asymptomatic this thing has. We are lead by corrupt degenerates who don’t know the difference between their head and their ass. Value your freedom it’s given you a ton even if it comes at the cost of a pandemic every couple of generations.

    2. “No food or tools were left for them. The roads were impassable, and there was no way through to the world outside, except for two brushwood paths. . . Machine-gunners manned barriers on both paths and let no one through from the death camp. They started dying like flies. Desperate people came out to the barriers begging to be let through, and were shot on the spot…They died off – every one of them…There’s no other way to build the New Society.”

      -Solzhenitsyn, on “Contact Tracing”

        1. Are we fact-checking sarcasm now?

          1. It’s not that hard to dump the whole quote in Google, and see what comes up.

            I don’t remember reading that section in Book 1 of the Archipelago though. Maybe it was in Book 2? It was a real slog getting through 1, but I’m glad I did.

          2. I was just curious where he wrote it, never read anything of his.

            Didn’t realize it was an offensive question.

            1. Every American should read that, though all the Marxism apologists would simply say “It just wasn’t done right, but next time it will work.”

    3. Who are the people saying “Hell No” to testing and tracing?

      The problem I see is that our country is like 50 separate countries. Each state is going to have to develop a test/trace system that works at the local level. Contact tracing in New York is going to require enough testing density to handle large buildings when people test positive. On the other hand, testing in Los Angeles requires people spread out over vast distances, but fewer people needing testing.

      I think what we will find is that with 150 international airports in the country and universities shutting down and sending kids home, you had thousands of infected people going across the entire country. The genetic analysis of this virus indicates that what killed us wasn’t the stuff coming over from China- that looks to have been 3 or 4 outbreaks. Instead it was the HUNDREDS of outbreaks in Europe that each separately made trips to the US. That just couldn’t be guarded against.

      1. It could have been guarded against. If Trump had stopped all international flights during the first week of February, and New York and New Orleans had banned all bit gatherings of people, I think they would have stopped it. The problem was they didn’t do anything until well after that and well after it was too late. I don’t think the lock downs and such have had any effect on the spread of the virus. It was way too widespread by they time they did anything to stop it. We just got lucky in that the virus isn’t anything like as deadly as we thought.

        1. There’s not any real evidence that lockdowns have ever been effective ever. Which is my biggest beef with the whole thing. The best explanation for it was Birx at one of these pressers who basically pointed to what we do in Africa when Ebola breaks out which is keep all those people isolated till they all die. The big laugher is they have no real empirical data that this type of action works or is largely effective yet the same fuctards are making use normal fda testing redtape on experimental treatments. It’s madness.

          1. //There’s not any real evidence that lockdowns have ever been effective ever.//


          2. The evidence from the 1918 flu showed that the counties who had lockdowns ended up with about the same results as those who didn’t. You quarantine sick people and even that only works if you have a small number of sick. Once it gets loose, there is nothing that is going to stop it.

            1. Plus in 1918, the fact that a lot of cities didn’t have lockdowns meant that herd immunity was reached outside the lockdown areas. If everywhere has lockdowns, how does that do anything except (at best) kick the can down the road a little?

              1. Which was always a consideration that none of our elites took into account.

              2. It doesn’t do anything except that.

              3. If everywhere has lockdowns, how does that do anything except (at best) kick the can down the road a little?

                This was a similar point I made about ‘flattening the curve’. Lots of statistical assumptions that go into models rely on normalization, meaning the area under the curve or curves is conserved. In this case that means the exact same number of people will die, the only difference is whether they die all at once in an overcrowded hospital or over a longer period of time in hospitals that have been working near or at capacity for longer.

                Which, if you expect a ‘second wave’ of infections, would be a reason why you *wouldn’t* want to flatten the curve. Get your losses out of the way and recover/prepare as much as possible for the ‘next wave’.

            2. No. Check out St Louis vs Philadelphia in 1918-19. Philly held a welcome home parade for the soldiers and had about a 1% death rate. St Louis had no parade and had a 0.1% death rate. Isolation works – you can’t get a virus from a distance. The question is really whether we have flattened the curve – we have – and now need to get on with things and let the herd immunity develop among the young and fit while oldsters sit tight.

              1. Anecdotal and doesn’t allow for compounding factors. At best you are showing a correlation not causation. There could (and were) numerous co factors that played into the different in mortality rates.

                1. If you like you can look at about 30 cities with a variety of responses. The correlation with quarantines is pretty solid.

                  The correlation is not causation argument is workable when the mechanism is not known. We know very well the mechanism of infection, so a correlation that embraces the mechanism – distancing and limiting large gatherings – is perfectly reasonable.

                  1. The mechanism of infection changes depending on the nature of the disease, the prevelance etc. Transmission changes and thus your point about the mechanism being known is not valid. Quarantines in the past have also been targeted, and looking at a single outbreak, Spanish Flu, gives a biased conclusion. Other outbreaks show little to no correlation between quarantines and decreased infections or mortalities. So this does legitimately raise the question if your data is correlation or causation. Or if the Spanish Flu was uniquely suited to be stopped by quarantines. And considering how long the outbreak lasted, it is also questionable as to if the quarantine did anything but drag out the process. In fact, the more deadly a pathogen, the quicker outbreaks resolve unless some other factor extends the outbreak. It could very well be that the quarantines actually extended the length of the Spanish Flu outbreak.
                    Some other considerations, Philadelphia was a major seaport that about a third of all servicemen returned to the USA through. While St Louis is a train hub, it would have had fewer returning soldiers returning through it. So Philadelphia, with or without a parade would have had more exposure then St Louis. Additionally, Philadelphia was a major naval port, a major destination for international trade, older and far more densely populated. Additionally, Philadelphia had a much greater number of impoverished immigrants, as well as being an unloading point for immigration and refugees. These are all confounding factors. For a comparison you would have to find an urban area with a similar economic and infrastructure system, as well as poverty rate, and population density, that did not have a parade, and was also a seaport. If the mortality rates were different then your correlation is more persuasive. But considering the huge number of confounding variables, no conclusions can be drawn from your example.

                    1. A simpler way to state it is that the more variables you have, the less likely correlation demonstrates causation. Anything much above two dependent variables it becomes extremely difficult to tease out causation.

            3. Since you guys were all completely wrong about this “being just a flu,” why should we listen to any of you now?

              1. Since you were completely wrong about this being the end of the world, the next plague, the next Spanish Flu, why do you continue time an idiot of yourself?

              2. Holy shit. You’re still saying this isnt a bad flu despite us maybe reaching the 2017 flu numbers (mostly because we now mark any death as covid related if any symptom and many elderly die with elevated temps for any number of reasons).

                There is even the new project veritas with the medical examiner’s and funeral homes saying as much.

                So please chipper, say the first substantive thing you’ve ever said here and explain why this isnt like a bad flu.

              3. It is far closer to being “just the flu” than it ever was to being the end of the world. The fact that they are cooking to books and struggling to bring the numbers *up* to a bad flu we had only a few years ago leads me to conclude that, when all is said and done, the flu will turn out to be worse.

              4. Jesus Christ, what happened to you?

                1. Orange Man Bad syndrome.

                2. I am almost fully convinced if Trump came out tomorrow and ended the war on drugs, opened the borders, ended most regulations etc, that there are a number of Libertarians such as Chipper who would throw a fit about it. I could be wrong but that is just how I read it anymore.

                  1. If Trump walked on water the media would say Trump can’t swim

              5. Actually, it is just a flu and so you were wrong, and are again.

            4. That’s the thing that really gets me about these people who think that lockdowns, quarantines, masks, social distancing, etc., save lives. Other than the lives that would be lost if hospital ERs and ICUs became overwhelmed and some sick people who could have been saved died for lack of treatment, no lives will be saved.

              All of the preventive measures mentioned above reduce the odds of transmission of the virus. Unless the odds are reduced to zero, which they never can be, all it does is have people infected later than they would have been. The disease is very contagious, transmitting even more easily than the very contagious flu, and the idea that it would be possible for people to evade it indefinitely demonstrates a failure to understand basic mathematics. All the measures do is to kick the can down the road and drag the pandemic out for a longer period of time (which is what they are meant to do).

              Is it a saved life if someone who would have died in March instead dies in May? They would not show in the daily death toll right now, but in retrospect, the way we look at past pandemics like “Spanish” Flu of 1918, the death toll will include them all.

              The only thing that will end the pandemic is herd immunity. One way to get herd immunity would be to get a vaccine, but we do not know if or when one will be available. We cannot shut society down waiting for a vaccine that may not come for years, or at all.

              Fortunately, there is a way that we can have herd immunity without a vaccine, but governments and their enablers among the citizenry persist in doing all they can to prevent that from taking place. Those who scream and yell about how those breaking the lockdowns are extending the pandemic demonstrate their own lack of knowledge. Lockdowns extend the pandemic, by design! The only thing that will bring it to an end is people getting the disease and becoming immune to it. Cowering and hiding in fear, and demanding that all others do the same, won’t do a thing to save anyone. It will, in fact, end a significant number of lives, through increased substance abuse, suicide, stress-related illness, and lakc of treatment of chronic conditions because we’ve somehow decided that only COVID needs treatment and everything else can wait.

        2. I’m open to being proven wrong, but I doubt that stopping international flights in December would have even made a difference in the grand scheme of things, just delayed it.

          If we consider that considerably more people get this and don’t even have so much as a sniffle or a minor fever compared to the number who even need to seek help for it, it had probably escaped and made it to Europe and the US before they even knew they had something in China.

          Even if we could have kept it out of the US by stopping international flights it would only be a matter of time before it got here anyway as it won’t have been eradicated everywhere else.

          You can’t stop international travel indefinitely so people from countries that haven’t eradicated it will unwittingly bring it with them and while you could try and test everyone getting off of aircraft and boats, and coming through land crossings, some small portion of those tests will be inaccurate. Then of course we’ve got all manner of people crossing outside of the official border who would undoubtedly bring it with them.

          1. I tend to agree with this. Discovering contagious respiratory illnesses is like finding termites. That is, by the time you spot them and start paying attention, you can be assured that they’ve already ravaged the entire foundation of your house.

      2. I’m against tracing because I’m not a little child who believes humanity is fragile. Why would I give the government information about my contacts? They have no right to it.

        1. If Trump had corona virus and you had to give up your contacts against your, and their, will, would you? How about Biden? Obama? Bush?

          Obviously the answer isn’t 100% no for everyone but to act like “Why would anyone be opposed to this?” is a bit naive.

      3. I’m saying Hell no to testing and tracing (if they’re saying we can’t go back to work without it).

        Note: I don’t have a problem with testing, just don’t believe it should be mandatory and especially not so I can try to put food on my family’s table.

        1. I agree Deignate I wouldn’t mind having a test just so that i could know wether to steer clear of My father who has COPD that is a choice otherwise they don’t need to make it a requirement for freedom of movement. I will not keep a tracer and if they inbed our phones with it then i will get rid of the phone

    4. We will re-open and suffer the health consequences.

      Re-open or not, you will face health consequences. Get up off of your knees.

    5. You still keep posting the same drivel that we are all going to die. But the research is becoming stronger every day that even if you do contract the virus your chances of even becoming symptomatic are below 50% (quite possibly below 30%) and your chances of surviving are at least 99.4%, possibly 99.9%. No, this isn’t the black plague, smallpox, yellow fever or the Spanish Flu. You are ordering others to give up the jobs and businesses (as well as their health according to growing reports) based upon bad information, personal (selfish) fear, partisanship and ignorance.

      1. The dramatically increased death rate being seen around the world is proof that covid is quite dangerous. Even if the death rate is low, the infection rate is very high.

        1. It is dangerous but not to 99% of the people who get infected. Also, a short period of increased deaths is meaningless. Many of those would have died this year anyhow. It will only mean something if there is an increase in the annual death rate, and even then for 99% of those infected it still poses no danger. Those are the facts.

        2. And even if infection rates are high, 50-70% will have no symptoms, and an additional 20-25% will only have mild symptoms, akin to the annual cold or flu. So a high infection rate still isn’t as scary as you think it is. The fact that even as the data continues to show lockdowns don’t work (states with and without lockdowns have similar rates of infections and deaths, as do countries that lockdown vs countries that don’t) your ilk continue to cry that those disobeying are going to die. Which is simply not even close to the truth. You are denying the science and if you haven’t been paying attention a growing number of doctors and epidemiologist are screaming the same thing.

          1. This is all academic anyhow since in about a month or so we will have plenty of new data. We will see what happens.

            1. We already have data you are ignoring because you are afraid and because your tribe’s narrative is counter to the actual data. Move those goal posts. We actually have the data already. And it disputes the need for lockdowns and especially for continuing lockdowns.
              In fact we knew before this started that pandemic modeling was questionable at best. Oxford did a study a couple of years ago looking at pandemic and epidemic modeling for previous outbreaks and found no, zero, a p value below 0.5 (which means worse than chance) statistical agreement between modeling and actual outbreaks. And in every single case the models were vastly biased to the right (overestimated) in regards to cases and deaths. Even after the researches controlled for mitigation strategies. A growing number of epidemiologist are stating that the failure of the models and the overreactions to faulty models in this instance (and in the past) requires a massive overhauling of how models are performed. The actual scientist who specialize in this are stating that the models were wrong, not even just wrong, but completely wrong and the whole field needs to rethink how they do things.

            2. You and your side are growing more desperate and grasping at straws, but look at the growing non-compliance, even in blue states, and see that people are increasingly not buying it anymore.

          2. Molly will cheer the government murdering those who disobey. And will insist those deaths be added to the Covid tally.

    6. Fuck off, Karen.

    7. Sure, keep things locked down–to achieve what? An authoritarian state for the sake of authority? A gerontocracy, where 90% of Americans suffer to assuage the fears of some frightened old people?

      Fuck off.

      1. Whats interesting is a lot of old people aren’t scared. I’ve seen a couple of old ladies in teh supermarket who just huf at the viruse and my mother wouldn’t stop going to church till the church was told to shut down

        1. As my parents and her older siblings (she’s the youngest by 11 years of six) have said “I want to live but not if it costs my children and grandchildren’s futures. This is going way to far”.

    8. Open wide and say “aah,” comrade. “Suffer the health consequences”? What health consequences? The ones where 99.8% of people who get wuflu survive it, just as 99.8% of people who get seasonal flu survive it? The horror.

      No government on any level has any right to force people to take medical tests of any kind. Where did you get this idea that those fucking assholes are in charge of your health or anyone else’s? If you want to get tested, go to a doctor and get tested–if you can find one that’s open, because your overlords have decreed that they all had to close. If you really gave any kind of fuck about human life you’d be outraged that so many of those “patient advocates” tamely allowed themselves to be shut down, and that in consequence thousands of people will die because their routine screenings were cancelled and their otherwise survivable cancers won’t be caught in time. Their deaths will be 100% the fault of assholes like you who screamed to their politicians to “DO SOMETHING!” And by the way, my attitude to “widespread testing” isn’t “Hell no.” It’s “Fuck. You.”

  4. Always enjoy articles in which no real proof is offered, just supposition and circumstantial evidence. She’s a good democrat that one.

  5. Geezis, just when you thought she couldn’t get any worse….

    Where are all the people advocating running thru Nursing Homes after the mosh pit?

    1. Their aren’t if anything nursing homes and jails needing to be emptied is a huge red flag that not only are lockdowns a waste of time they might actually make things worse. Those two institutions are the literal definition of shelter in place and nursing homes especially are responsible for over 50% of the deaths in most places.

      1. Shelter in place – within a very short distance of many others, and share a lunch room with hundreds. Not isolation at all.

        1. But easily closed to the outside world other than a handful of workers.

          1. Which works if the place is closed before the virus gets started, AND the guards are careful about not bringing it in. Both not in evidence in prisons in Ohio where the virus runs rampant. The good thing is that not that many die, probably because the population is skewed young.


            1. So, if you can’t control it in places with the ability to lockdown, then it is obvious that quarantining society as a whole is pretty much worthless. If you can’t control it when you can control entry and exit, what makes you think in a society at whole, that is much harder to control, that quarantines work?

  6. US hospitals already are practicing extreme hygiene, we don’t have peasant farm hospitals like the Chinese commie savages run.

  7. This is a marginally better effort from the Shreeka harpie.

    I searched the entire article for a ‘we need open borders’ reference.

    1. “Let’s face it: There is no perfectly safe…”

      That is enough to remember.

      Shikha’s best effort to date.

  8. I have had long arguments on here against the people who think this thing is a hoax. While I am not willing to go so far as to say it is entirely a hoax, I think the people who disagreed with me have more of a point than I thought they did. My opinion was already changing on this because of the antibody studies. Now, today, we get these two things.

    First we get this.

    It appears everyone in NYC at least who dies is now being classified as a COVID death. To the people who said this was going on and whom I doubted, you were right I was wrong. Yes, they really are just calling anything and everything a COVID death beyond all reason. They might not be in places outside of New York but New York accounts for most of the deaths. So, their lying alone is a big problem with the death total.

    Then there is this out of Italy. It turns out that 99% of the people who died from COVID in Italy had other illnesses. The numbers are just shocking.

    The new study could provide insight into why Italy’s death rate, at about 8% of total infected people, is higher than in other countries.

    The Rome-based institute has examined medical records of about 18% of the country’s coronavirus fatalities, finding that just three victims, or 0.8% of the total, had no previous pathology. Almost half of the victims suffered from at least three prior illnesses and about a fourth had either one or two previous conditions.

    More than 75% had high blood pressure, about 35% had diabetes and a third suffered from heart disease.

    The average age of those who’ve died from the virus in Italy is 79.5. As of March 17, 17 people under 50 had died from the disease. All of Italy’s victims under 40 have been males with serious existing medical conditions.

    While data released Tuesday point to a slowdown in the increase of cases, with a 12.6% rise, a separate study shows Italy could be underestimating the real number of cases by testing only patients presenting symptoms.

    According to the GIMBE Foundation, about 100,000 Italians have contracted the virus, daily Il Sole 24 Ore reported. That would bring back the country’s death rate closer to the global average of about 2%.

    That is from Bloomberg. I would put the link but the reason squirrels won’t allow two links. Just google Bloomberg Italy COVID death and it comes right up.

    1. I don’t think that there’s that many malevolent people involved for this to be the total answer. There is real money being burnt up over this by real people who matter politically, the political class will have to answer to no matter what happens. It’s happening, the real question is how bad is it and we won’t know for years down the line. But in all honesty that won’t matter the recession that’s coming is going to largely be felt by everybody before october and they will vote accordingly.

      1. I do think they are juking the stat’s for sure though. But that’s a matter of retarded policy and a misguided attempt to try to track this bug in real time, which lets face was a retarded fantastical notion from the beginning. The level of hubris and retarded involved is stunning to me.

      2. The recession is here. The only question is how long is this nonsense going to go on making it worse.

        I think there is three things going on. First, the people who said this was the end of the world are now being proven wrong. And they are loath to admit that and are drawing this out as long as possible in hopes of people not understanding how wrong they were. Second, some people are benefiting from this. And they want it to go on because they are benefiting. Third, the debate has been poisoned with politics. Believing in the lockdowns and this being the worst thing ever has become a way to show your membership in Team Orange Man Bad. So, a whole bunch of people who should know better, have become unconditional supporters of any measure no matter how extreme, useless, and long lasting, because doing so is their way of saying Trump is bad.

        It is just a mess. I thought these lockdowns were going to end pretty quickly. And I think they will in some places. But, in others it is just going to be impossible to get these morons to listen to reason.

        1. It seems that the ones continuing lockdowns are doing it out of spite because Trump is in favor (to a degree) in lifting them. It seems to be his most vocal critics that are pushing for more lockdowns.

        2. I’m shocked people put up with them this long. When approximately the current status quo was put in place in NJ, I gave it 2 or 3 weeks, tops.

        3. The recession is here a couple of large banks are no longer accepting home equity loan applications. I think one was BofA.

    2. And we are somewhere in the neighborhood of 10,000 deaths in NYS being “probable,” which the CDC defines as:

      1. Meeting clinical criteria AND epidemiologic evidence with no confirmatory laboratory testing performed for COVID-19

      2. Meeting presumptive laboratory evidence AND either clinical criteria OR epidemiologic evidence

      3. Meeting vital records criteria with no confirmatory laboratory testing performed for COVID19

      They are fudging the numbers HARD, and still struggling to break past 60,000 deaths, which was my prediction.

      1. When you are dealing with people who are old and sick anyway, it is often impossible to know exactly what killed them. So, there is going to be some over estimating of the deaths no matter what. It is very clear that they have gone well beyond the expected fudging that results from exact causes of death not being knowable. They are just calling anyone who dies of anything other than man made accident a COVID death.

        1. Then you have absurdities like this:

          //The man died as a result of a drug overdose while infected with COVID-19, a significant contributing condition, according to county spokeswoman Ashley Bautista.//

          1. The worst thing is that people have locked themselves into the position that this stuff is so deadly the lockdowns must continue. So, there is no convincing them that this is going on or that the virus isn’t the threat we thought it was. Like I say above, for a lot of people it seems to have become a way to show their membership in “Team Orange Man Bad.” When you point out the facts that are coming out, they just run away and refuse to listen or even try to defend their claims. They just dismiss you as a crank who wants people to die.

            I understand why people thought all of this was necessary. I was one of those people. But, I cannot understand how people can be so ignorant and irrational they refuse to change their opinion when the facts available require it.

            1. It was necessary back then.

              The lockdown was supposed to be for only two weeks!

              1. Exactly. But even then it appears we got it wrong. But it wasn’t unreasonable given what we knew at that time. It is now very unreasonable given what we know. But people are too pigheaded to understand that.

                1. Clearly, there was an overreaction.

                  for most of the country (except for hotspots and areas within fifty miles along an interstate from a hot spot), most places could have been opened after the two-week lockdown with restrictions such as reduced seating for restaurants and masks for employees.

                  Massage parlors, barbershops, and hair salons could have stayed open with restrictions such as requiring a hand sanitizer station at the entrance, requiring employees to wear surgical masks and gloves, and changing gloves after each client.

                  There would not have been so much opposition to these lockdowns if lockdowns had been restricted to hot spots and places within fifty miles along an interstate from a hot spot

                  1. +1000

                  1. Thank you for the upvote.

              2. It was not necessary then in the vast majority of the US. It appeared necessary to some people, and maybe it was expedient in some limited areas for a limited time. It’s never “necessary” to violate constitutional rights, though. You can ask people to do something, and if they refuse, the answer isn’t tyranny. That’s never the answer.

                My state didn’t have a lockdown order until late in the game. Even so, fast food places closed their dining rooms, sit-down restaurants closed or went pickup only, and lots of places shut down completely (like the local Kohl’s store). Grocery stores started having their employees washing carts, wearing masks, limiting the number of people inside, putting up plexiglass barriers at checkstands, putting “stand here” marks on the floor… without ever being told to by a government critter. Lots of people started wearing masks, and businesses that had previously had “no mask” rules rescinded them.

                When our governor chickened out and issued the order, nothing that I could see actually changed.

            2. But, I cannot understand how people can be so ignorant and irrational they refuse to change their opinion when the facts available require it.

              My theory is that no amount of facts and logic can convince someone to abandon a belief they arrived at by emotion.

              1. We are reaching a point of mass hysteria. Part of that is that the facts are becoming clearer every day that this wasn’t what we thought it was. But, as you say when people arrive at a position from emotion, they are immune to facts and logic. In fact, the more the facts say the opposite, the more hysterical their defense gets.

                1. They, the pro lockdown crowd, are growing desperate. It is just a matter of time until they resort to violence. That is almost always how things end. Some cops will open fire on protestors or some pro lockdown citizens, scared for themselves, will attack those who have decided not to obey. We already see them calling the cops, verbally harassing and such, those who they think are breaking the rules.

        2. That works both ways = So, there is going to be some over estimating of the deaths no matter what.

          We also have a cohort who died of KungFlu, and we never knew it was KungFlu that got them. Sort of a wash, John.

    3. I saw that funeral home vid yesterday, but it only confirms what I’ve been getting from numerous sources within the USA. We saw the report here of the girl who died of seizures and was labeled a Covid-19 death despite her and her entire family testing negative for SARS-Cov2 RNA. A FOAF in Penna. fell down stairs at age 81, broke his neck, never respiratory symptoms, but corpse tested positive so he’s one of the country’s 2 Covid-19 deaths. Somehow the supposed Covid-19 deaths don’t seem to be moving the totals of deaths or of cases of pneumonia.

      We’re always seeing the old and debilitated felled by pneumonias, especially in nursing homes, so it would be very easy for them to relabel some large chunk of them “Covid-19”. WTF is all this “presumptive” Covid-19 diagnosing? Who has diagnostic criteria distinguishing this from all other viral pneumonias, other than by genetic sequences?

      It just seems somebody decided this was a particularly dangerous virus going around, and therefore cases of severe illness are being presumed to be it. Because all these cases of illness are being labeled as due to this viral infection, there’s your evidence of how dangerous it is. It’s circular.

      “He wouldn’t have died of pneumonia if I hadn’t shot him.” — Arsenic and Old Lace.

      1. And in the USA at least, there are incentives to increase the number of Covid-19 cases reported, and no incentives to decrease them. In China it might’ve been the other way around at first.

        I wouldn’t be surprised that if they ever get around to confirming these figures, it turns out the real death numbers are half or a quarter of what’s attributed to Covid-19 now.

    4. Covid isn’t a hoax but our politicians and media have blown it to hoax proportions for personal gain and control. I think the Chinese blew it our of proportion for control and people in this country took their cue from China. and if China didn’t blow it out of proportion and it was a real killer there then it must have weakend by the time it left the country by infected carriers whose biological system weakend it

  9. What a stupid article. She obviously hates Trump and Republican governors while praising Hillary and the Democrats. Plus all her immigration stuff is garbage because Trump hates immigration which means she hates Trump which means Reason hates Trump which means the magazine is run by Democrats since only Democrats are critical of Trump which makes Reason no better than MSNBC.

    1. Another one of your brilliant, incisive, and astute “remotely libertarian” comments.

      1. Oh, you want one of those? Well, in my mine the virus isn’t the problem. Government’s reaction is the problem. Every medical professional I’ve spoken with says herd immunity is the way to go, while isolating those at the highest risk. Basically what the author said. Call me conspiratorial, but the more this goes on the more I wonder if this is just people with power testing how much we peasants will take before we pick up the pitchforks.

        1. Agree.

          They still have you guys mining, in these conditions?

          1. Oh, my typo. I get it.

        2. The irony sweetie is that the ones you’re attempting to mock here are those most likely to agree with your stance on this.

    2. Ok squirrel.

  10. We should have been focusing on nursing homes instead of putting healthy people on house arrest. Instead we did the opposite and now we have a bunch of nursing home deaths and a healthy population that not only doesn’t have any immunity to CV but have compromised their healthy immune systems by staying hunkered down so long. At this point most states are just playing pretend. It’s power for powers sake.

    1. It is ass covering. If they open things up and nothing happens, and it appears nothing will, the public will want to know why any of it was necessary in the first place. So, they are dragging this out as long as possible and opening up as slowly as possible so that they can claim how they saved the world when things do re-open and not have to answer for fucking up. Ass covering and the intoxication of having powers they never dreamed of having thanks to it being an “emergency” are what is keeping this going.

      1. //Ass covering and the intoxication of having powers they never dreamed of having thanks to it being an “emergency” are what is keeping this going.//


      2. There is some of that. But more people are just panicked and this is repeatedly fed by the MSM. Most people don’t know what to think and are reflexively going with the low risk option.

        My family has two with compromised immune systems so we are happy to be left alone.

        1. The number panicked appear to be way less than the cower in place crowd. At least based off the traffic not changing at all where I live.

          1. Traffic going into DC is reduced by an insane amount. My work commute ranges between what is normal for school being out and Saturday traffic. Local traffic is unchanged. Traffic outside of normal peak commute hours is the same or slightly increased.

      3. John, instead of ass-covering, could it be a combination of ignorance and incompetence?

        Seems incompetence explains what we saw better than ass-covering.

    2. We should have been focusing on nursing homes instead of putting healthy people on house arrest.

      They can’t. That would be age discrimination. Must treat everyone equally under the law. That means everyone under house arrest or nobody under house arrest.

      1. It would have been a smarter comment from you if you went and looked at how Florida reacted by focusing in tests in retirement communities and nursing homes. Older population than NY, much less death.

      2. It was illegal anyway.

        Mandates are not the way things are done in a free country. We give them the info and let them make their choices. We really should try the “be a free country” thing.

  11. I felt liberated while everyone was on lockdown … shame it’s over.

  12. Now I know we’re fucked: Shikha Dalmia making more sense than all the other writers!

  13. If liberation is not your only choice, you need to go back to India where you belong. You are not an American and never will be.

    1. You beat me to it. Reminds me of this, forget who wrote it (paraphrasing):

      Democrats: We want to spend $2 billion on our new Forfuckingnothingatall program.

      Republicans: No way!

      Democrats: Let’s compromise and spend only $1 billion.

      Republicans: Okay, deal!

  14. It’s nothing a moral and empathetic culture can’t fix. Moral and empathetic people don’t fire moral and empathetic people for missing work because they’re sick and don’t want to infect others.

  15. The virus outbreak and its spread did not take me by surprise. Anyone using wechat knew exactly what was happening in Wuhan in December thru February. Those of us informed were assuming that US intelligence was seeing the same chaos coming out of wuhan via China social media. We could not believe that both the US media and the government did next to nothing. No immediate banning of all flights to and from China, like vietnam did, and immediate stockpiling of PPE and other equipment as Korea and Taiwan did. The media as well as Congress should have been demanding this on behalf of the people. It was not done. Failure too at state and local levels for also not complaining and keeping up to date. I assume everyone was watching netflix crap. Amazing.

    1. ” We could not believe that both the US media and the government did next to nothing.”

      We still make the mistake of taking America seriously. Remember this is a country that after 20 years can’t defeat a militia of part time goat herders. It can’t even manage to bring these losers home.

      1. Killing people is relatively easy. Subduing them and making them submit is much harder. It’s the same answer I give when a gun grabber type tells me that an armed populace stands no chance against the might of the US military. Assuming the members of the military (who are generally more honorable than cops) actually follow orders to fire upon their own countrymen in order to preserve tyranny, sure, they could kill them, no problem. If the goal is to enslave them, though, that’s a lot harder.

  16. The future is gay cops on fire.

  17. The state of Washington just abolished the rights freedom of religion and freedom of assembly today, in full with no exceptions. So there is no alternative besides liberation.

  18. Shikha doesn’t get it. No one has the right to lock anyone up because they might get sick, or because they may be sick. Freedom is a right, not something to be taken away because some people are scared. The government does not have the legitimate authority to lock people up who have violated no one’s rights.

    1. Should we be able to force someone who is contagious and can infect others to stay at home?

  19. “The government does not have the legitimate authority to lock people up who have violated no one’s rights.”

    Do you think Stalin had the legitimate authority to confiscate Ukrainian grain? He didn’t need it. He had the power and a cowed populace. Legitimate authority didn’t enter into it.

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  21. One aspect we need to address: China’s deliberate and malevolent actions have directly cost thousands of American lives, and untold carnage on our economy. That cannot go unanswered.

    We have a trade deal with those fuckers. Fine. We honor the agreement (contract) terms. But I know there is no fucking way I want to buy anything Chinese made ever again. I hope other Americans feel the same way.

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  23. What’s been amazing to me is that the people who hate our current administration so deeply apparently believe that people can do nothing, from handwashing, to social distancing, to wearing masks, to self-quarantine, to many other things, without that administration telling them to.

  24. “We need more targeted approaches to contain high-risk activities and protect high-risk populations while giving ordinary Americans more—not less—freedom to figure out when and how they want to return to work and some semblance of normal life.”

    Like the way animals in “natural” zoo exhibits have some semblance of normal life? Go fuck yourself. Freedom isn’t the government’s to give, you fascist asshole. It’s for the government to protect. Instead your starting premise is that freedom is something your overlords need to judiciously meter out. If you weren’t profoundly retarded you’d be too fucking embarrassed to publicly say something that evil.

  25. This is the most common sense article I’ve read. You even brought up Gawande checklist
    Sometimes simple practices have greater results than anything else. We should come up with personal and business checklist for public places.

  26. I like how you approached this article. Thank you for taking the time to write about this perspective.
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