'We Make the Weather': Why Voluntary Cooperation Is Key To Battling Coronavirus

Dr. Jeremy S. Faust talks about battling COVID-19 in the emergency room and how to safely reopen American society.


What's it like serving on the front lines of the response to the coronavirus pandemic? And what have the federal, state, and local responses to COVID-19 gotten right and wrong so far?

To answer those and other questions, Nick Gillespie turned to Dr. Jeremy S. Faust of Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, where he trains emergency room doctors and is pulling daily shifts treating patients who have COVID-19. 

Faust stresses that attempts to reopen businesses, schools, and other parts of everyday life will need to based on local conditions and that effective containment has to rely on the voluntary participation of people who are given reliable information rather than bullied by political and medical authorities. "It's not a weather system that we can track beginning, middle, and end," says Faust. "We make the weather. If people believe in what their participation is, it's a hell of a lot easier to achieve [containment] than through some sort of draconian enforcement."

Faust also co-hosts the FOAM Podcast about ER and coronavirus issues, and writes for Brief19, a daily review of COVID-19 research and policy.

NEXT: What The New York Times' 1619 Project Gets Wrong About Capitalism: Phillip Magness

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  1. Earlier this week I drove to Myrtle Beach, where I’ll be joining the department of surgery at the hospital there starting in June, and it turned out to be a total waste of time. The governor has shut down all hotels in the state, so my son and I had to drive over an hour back into North Carolina to find a room. None of the properties were wanting to show, much less sign paperwork this far out, so I didn’t end up getting much done. Got to spend a ton of time in the car with my son at least.

    1. It’s almost like central planning doesn’t work…

      congrats on the new gig though!

      1. Thanks so much! I’m excited, even as I’m dreading living in a tourist trap.

  2. How good can he be? He’s wearing his mask all wrong!

  3. alt-text: the last thing you see before the anesthesia kicks in

    1. “What the hell is that?”

  4. Since it is known this is about as deadly as the seasonal flu, let’s just get it over with now. We don’t need more government busybodys trying to track and trace us with their stupid apps.

    Because that may be the real reason after all. If you wanted a Chinese Communist style way to spy on your citizens, a good “pandemic” would be just the ticket.

  5. Maybe he’ll redeem the name “Dr. Faust.”

  6. I seem to remember hearing once about a Dr Faust, and how he acquired all his great knowledge.
    Are we sure we want to trust this guy?

  7. I guess if noted economist Peter Navarro can be trusted to call a pandemic when he sees one, there’s no reason we can’t trust a medical doctor to advise us on re-opening the economy. Now , if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to have Emeril Lagasse repaint my car.

  8. Just open. Maximum freedom should be the DEFAULT.

    Why do we feel we have to plan for every conceivable contingency?

    Shit is always going to be beyond our control. Always. Be it viruses, deaths from car accidents, cancer, construction accidents, suicides, overdoses, plane crashes, pollution, bear mauling, etc.

    When did we suddenly become such statistically oriented autists? Good fucking god.

    1. You bring up the fact that this is not merely a scientific discussion. Everyone who says “believe science,” even if you ignore the flaws in that statement, has already assumed that we are all bound to maximize some utility function.

      But who said we should be coerced to maximize a utility function?

      1. Science is a tool, not an end. People treat it as an end, in itself. The value of life is cheapened by science, especially among those that have not accepted death as the inevitable consequence of living. Science exists as a supplement to make our limited time alive better, not to defeat death. What more is there to say?

        1. I agree 100%. But for the “intellectuals” this is apparently beyond their imagination.

  9. End the hysteria.

    Gillespie is scared to get the BoomerFlu. He should stay home.

    The rest of us are partying and hanging and have been for 4 weeks now.

  10. Hanging out with the fellow kids are ya?

    Couldn’t sound like more of a boomer

  11. How to safely reopen the economy:
    1. Lift all the lockdown orders.
    2. If you’re over 65, or obese, or have asthma, avoid crowds.

  12. A question that’s been rattling around in my head: These studies are treating everyone who tests positive for antibodies as past infections — or at least, this is how the media is reporting the findings — yet anyone who has taken immunology knows that antibodies can be produced after any sufficient exposure to an antigen, regardless of whether or results in what we would clinically define as an infection. Wouldn’t it be more accurate to describe these as exposure rates rather than infection rates, since we don’t know what proportion of these exposures actually progressed to infection? For that matter, given what a high proportion of exposed individuals remain asymptomatic, I wonder if we’re going to see the beginning of a widespread colonization, particularly among less vulnerable populations. It’s conceivable that carrying SARS-CoV-2 around in your respiratory could become as commonplace and harmless to most people as being colonized with gonococcus in their nares or S. epidermidis on your skin.

    1. Please! Stop questioning the narrative!

      How are going to allow the take over of the country if you keep thinking for yourself?
      Just shut up, steal a mask from somewhere, get in you house, and leave your betters alone to fix your life.

    2. There you go thinking like a surgeon with logic and all that.

      Congrats on your new job. I am working on SC and other states for remote work currently. Also hoping to start in July. The state boards are no easier to deal with.

    3. Excellent points.

      My cousin was diagnosed with the virus and experienced the usual symptoms (i.e. flu/cold symptoms). Her partner, with whom she lives and was quarantined in a one bedroom apartment the entire time had no symptoms at all.

      Perhaps she already had antibodies from prior exposure?

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