History will likely show that the current public policy response to Covid-19 will be one of the great mistakes of all times.
Advice such as take ordinary precautions, wash your hands, stay home from work if sick and don’t visit the elderly in nursing homes, jumped to social distancing and then jumped to quarantine to shelter-in-place to broad draconian lock downs including closing ocean beaches to human traffic.
The resulting financial and social calamity would have been obvious to almost anyone.
Why though? Many argue that Covid is being “weaponized” for political purposes. Everything from finally imposing Med for All (whatever Med means and whatever All means) to ending the private sector rental property industry which was first tried decades ago with rent control ordinances. Even ballot harvesting and a DACA amnesty was proposed.
The end result of this new, not one life lost to Covid policy, will be a monstrous Misery Index of deaths, divorces, financial and psychological damage directly and indirectly caused by … the initial knee jerk Covid public policy response. The attempt to mitigate the initial outbreak to save the Greatest Generation ever (the latest Media theme) will cause a calamity that is many times greater than if the world, but especially the US, managed while working through the initial outbreak.
The first wave of stimulus money which will prove to be good money after bad much like the majority of US foreign aid, could have targeted the vulnerable demographic of elderly with pre-morbidities. For a small fraction of the first wave of stimulus money, they could all be housed and supported relatively safely and in relative luxury … isolated at the Four Seasons for example instead of rolling the dice in the ICU. Many more lives would have been saved and without a shutdown.
The remainder of the populace takes virus and bacteria avoidance precautions, but amped up a bit. Consider living and working as usual but with masks, gloves, hand washing, etc.
Still the only way through this is catch and recover. Will a vaccine or cure be developed before social unrest and financial ruin risks collapsing entire societies? Will a Covid vaccine be 100% effective? Doubtful. When will a vaccine be ready? Are there cures for respiratory viruses?
When and if effective vaccines and/or treatments are available, the vulnerable groups can leave the lap of luxury and return to their ordinary way of life which for most was isolation anyway, although many may not want to.
Now that the world is locked down, what stat, what science will open it up again? The Covid virus will still be out there waiting. It is not going away. Flatten the curve from where to where? What if the curve flattens to a rate of hospitalizations that still “overwhelms” the current US health care system?
Let’s say that the current pandemic was started in China in late 2019 when the strain first jumped species, from a bat to a human as reported. If so, then exactly one human was at ground zero.
Now to re-open, the world must therefore be certain out of 8.5 billion people world-wide, there is not another single person shedding Covid virus and still contagious. If not, then we have essentially another pandemic, likely from a different location — ground zero number two, and another shutdown. The proverbial death spiral, and our Greatest Generation is still facing the biggest risk.
Which one of the current crop of experts, policy makers, politicians will be brave enough to declare it safe to go back in the water again? When and why? Will they have any credibility when they say why?
The only way out of this is to come out of hiding now and manage through it.