I am old enough to remember the catch phrase, “15 days to flatten the curve.” At the onset of the original coronavirus outbreak in America, political leaders and health experts were telling the American people that even though there was so much we didn’t know about the virus itself – who it threatened most, how it spread, what pre-existing conditions were most likely to be exacerbated by it, how it was best treated – we did know this much: hospitals were being overrun.
Particularly in the northeast, hospital ICU’s were already exceeding capacity and the spread was continuing unabated. So, they said, we needed to lock down, shelter in place, restrict travel, and temporarily close businesses in order to “flatten the curve.” We all saw the graph that showed hospitalizations skyrocketing well past the dotted line of capacity. The goal, we were told, was the push down on that spike by hiding from one another.
Doing so would slow the spread, get that curving line underneath the dotted hospital capacity one, and then move forward with life. Never once was there talk of hiding to wait out the virus. Any virologist worth their salt will tell you that isn’t how viruses work. They will spread, eventually, throughout the population until enough people have immunity that it isn’t able to expand any further.
Again, that was the idea behind “flattening the curve.” In essence, the phrase meant, “let’s deal with this virus over a longer period of time as opposed to letting it work its way through our population quickly.” It was a strategy that now, compared to places like Sweden that didn’t flatten their curve through lockdowns and masks, some suggest might not have been the best approach.
Frankly, I’m not into debating that point. It’s water under the bridge and does us no good to haggle over the wisdom of Fauci, Birx, Trump, Cuomo, or any of the folks who were making the best call they could with the (often times poor) information they had at the time.
What I am up for debating is the wisdom in continued lockdown orders. Like this:
I don’t know that I would agree with Senator Paul that Governor Beshear is “drunk with power.” I haven’t spent enough time following him to know much about the guy, so I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and say his orders are well-intentioned. But regardless of the motivation, the wisdom of his decision can certainly be called into question.
Beshear, like many, have seemed to adopt the “hide until the virus is gone” mentality. One of the responses to Senator Paul’s tweet summed up that approach nicely:
No dead Kentucky residents from COVID? Surely we all understand that the only way the government could come close to ensuring that is if they locked down the entire state in place and allowed no commerce, no interaction, no nothing. I’m guessing Bethany would not agree to that, and neither would Governor Beshear. They are both willing to take certain risks with lives to allow human interaction. That alone destroys their claim to the “if it saves one life” moral high horse.
In which case, a reasoned approach seems prudent. We know the threat of the virus is real. We also know the following threats to public health and well-being are real and rising as a result of lockdowns:
- Global food chain shortages costing the lives of 10,000 children a month
- Rise in domestic violence reports
- Suicide rate increase
- Spikes in depression diagnoses
- Food insecurity upsurge among inner city families
- Profound rise in business failures
- Layoffs and unemployment claims skyrocketing
To pretend that lockdowns which cause all those realities are the most effective means of dealing with a virus that is now, for a multitude of reasons far less deadly than it was, is uninspired, unimaginative leadership.
We need better.