How Government Screwed Up Coronavirus Response

From masks to tests, suppression to stimulus, the Reason Roundtable podcast reviews the mistakes that got us to this precarious point.


Believe it or not, we're still in the month of March. On March 1, New York City recorded its first positive case for the novel coronavirus. On March 2, Mayor Bill de Blasio—with future "Love Gov" Andrew Cuomo at his side—said "We have the capacity to keep this contained." On March 10, de Blasio told MSNBC, with reckless inaccuracy, that "If you're under 50 and you're healthy, which is most New Yorkers, there's very little threat here. This disease, even if you were to get it, basically acts like a common cold or flu. And transmission is not that easy." By March 15, with great reluctance, Hizzoner finally joined the rest of big-city America in closing public schools. On March 16, he worked out at the Park Slope YMCA.

Now near the end of the month, New York City is the American epicenter of the deadly virus, with more than 36,000 positive tests and 750+ deaths, and de Blasio has gone from reluctant institutions-shutterer to someone who has threatened churches and synagogues with "potentially closing the building permanently" if they don't keep their doors closed during the upcoming holidays.

Plague-life comes at you fast, exposing some of the worst pathologies of governance and politics. An examination of such begins today's Reason Roundtable podcast, featuring Nick Gillespie, Katherine Mangu-Ward, Peter Suderman, and Matt Welch. We discuss the catastrophe of slow testing, the mixed messaging on masks, the gargantuan bailout/stimulus, and—of course!—what to watch and listen to during the long days of quarantine.

For an video version of this podcast, go here.

Audio production by Ian Keyser.

Relevant links from the show:

"As Trump Imagines '2.2 Million Deaths' From COVID-19 in the U.S., a Top Federal Disease Expert Cautions Against Believing Worst-Case Scenarios," by Jacob Sullum

"The World Must Not Mimic China's Authoritarian Model to Fight COVID-19," by Shikha Dalmia

"In Dramatic Shift, Trump Tells Nation To Stay at Home Until the End of April," by Elizabeth Nolan Brown

"As Coronavirus Outbreak Hit, Trump Administration Refused To Ease Hand Sanitizer Tariffs," by Eric Boehm

"Airlines Make Out Like Bandits in $2.3 Trillion Coronavirus Aid Bill," by Christian Britschgi

"How Much Is $2.3 Trillion? More Than Even Obama Could Imagine," by Matt Welch