I have been saying since last spring that, if the lockdowns were only about protecting people from the coronavirus, then perhaps they might be justified. But, it’s never been just about the virus. Lives are being destroyed by the lockdowns because people are losing their jobs, their livelihoods, their businesses. Lives are being destroyed by the lockdowns because people are despairing, leading to increased suicide rates, drug overdoses, cases of domestic violence, and social isolation. People are dying from the lockdowns, but last spring it seemed that, if you didn’t die from the virus, your death didn’t count at all. After almost a year, many states remain consumed with the debate over whether or not to open schools, and decisions seem to be made based more on politics than science or what’s best for the children.
Comparisons between states suggests that lockdowns were not a good way of responding to the virus. Yes, I know that that’s what the scientists were saying. We needed to flatten the curve. We didn’t know enough about the virus and how serious the threat was. Now, we know more. What we have suspected from the beginning has largely been confirmed: the virus is a serious public health threat that demands an appropriate and proportionate response, but the mortality rate is in the area of between 1-2% (some say well under 1%), and those at greatest risk are the elderly and those with co-morbidities. So, take measures to protect the most vulnerable – wear a mask in public, social distance, and wash your hands – and get on with your lives.
In their article, “We Are Not Safer At Home.” James Piereson and Naomi Schaefer Riley compare New York and Florida, both in how each state responded to the virus and how each has been impacted by the virus. The numbers are indisputable. Though New York has imposed far stricter lockdowns on its citizens than Florida, the Empire State has suffered far worse under the virus. According to Piereson and Riley, “Florida has 224 people per 1 million in hospitals for Covid-19; New York State has 338 per million, or 50 percent more. In New York, blacks are 2.3 times more likely than whites to die of Covid; in Florida, blacks are equally as likely as whites to die.” Yet, it is Florida, home to Republican governor Ron DeSantis, that is being threatened with travel restrictions by President Biden. New York has suffered worse economically, as well. The employment rate in Florida dropped by 4.6% from December 2019 to December 2020, but the employment rate drop in New York was more than double that at 10.4% over the same period.
Much the same story has been written about California, the state with likely the strictest lockdown in the country, yet experiencing one of the highest covid surges. Frustration with the lockdown, as well as the perceived arbitrary nature of the rules and the hypocrisy of political leaders not following the rules they impose on the populous, is largely the reason for the campaign to recall Governor Gavin Newsom.
It’s difficult, as is the case on so many other matters, to have a reasonable conversation about coronavirus and how to respond to it. The virus has been politicized and our media elites have exploited the sometimes extreme responses to things like mask mandates as one more wedge to drive between the American people. If you suggest a reasonable, balanced response to the virus, one side accuses you of being responsible for the deaths of thousands, while the other side accuses you of being responsible for the death of liberty! It would be easier if we could look to the consistent, science-based information and recommendations offered by Dr. Fauci, the CDC, the WHO and other experts in the medical field, but their information has been so inconsistent and their recommendations have flipped so often that there’s no wonder people are confused and incredulous.
I will continue to advocate for what I think is a reasonable, balanced response to the virus: wear a mask in public, social distance, wash your hands and, now, get the vaccine when it’s available to you. Also, open the schools, open businesses, end the lockdowns.
Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.