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A three-column article in the local daily recently revealed the alarming news that Arizona State Sen. Lupe Contreras and members of his family had tested positive for the coronavirus. I wish Sen. Contreras and his family well. He seems like a good guy. But in a sane world without the hyperbolic, breathless press treatment of all matters coronavirus, the headline would read “state senator and family get the flu“ which, of course, isn’t a news story at all.
Nothing remarkable here, folks, just another among the countless attempts of the media to convince us that Wuhan flu is vastly more threatening than any other health challenges faced in the past. Yes, viral epidemics are nasty. People get sick and die. But compared with others America has faced in its history, this virus is worse than some, not as lethal as others.
Regrettably, the media blitz has succeeded. The virus may not be the most destructive of all time, but the panic-driven reaction to it could be the worst public-health blunder in our history.
The Spanish flu following WWI was far more severe than COVID-19. At least 50 million people died worldwide, 675,000 in the US, or roughly 10 times the COVID-19 tallies. Worse, mortality extended to all age groups including those under five and previously healthy people.
Americans practiced basic preventive measures but didn’t destroy the economy. The rapid comeback produced the Roaring Twenties.
A more apt comparison would be the Hong Kong flu (obviously named by xenophobic racists) of 1968-69. This illness, like COVID-19, was highly contagious, had the ability to mutate, was fatal mostly for the elderly and already ill, and most infected people didn’t get that sick.
Hong Kong flu killed over 100,000 Americans, then with a population of 200 million. Yet Americans didn’t freak out. Schools stayed open since children weren’t in serious danger.
Again, common-sense measures to avoid exposure to the virus, sanitize hands and surfaces, and protect the vulnerable were taken. But there was no lockdown, people went to work, and life pretty much went on.
Is it possible, as experts claim, that COVID-19 has produced fewer fatalities because of the self-imposed lockdowns? In a word, no. There was never any evidence that lockdowns reduced overall death rates and now that we have some experience, it is becoming clear that lockdowns at best change only the timing of fatalities.
A recent study looked at how soon states went into lockdown after reaching the threshold of one death per million. Although lockdowns are still touted by the “experts,” the data clearly showed that whether states locked down early, late, or not at all had no effect on death rates.
Fortunately, as Sweden is demonstrating to the world, certain characteristics of the coronavirus render it vulnerable to herd immunity. Most people that develop immunity don’t get that sick, vulnerable populations are easily identified, and the others are almost totally protected.
Under newly calculated death rate determinations, people aged 18 to 45 have a death rate of 0.01% while for those under five, the death rate is effectively zero. Meanwhile, of 8,000 NYC deaths investigated, 99.2% had identifiable underlying conditions.
This means that, rather than hectoring productive workers to “stay home!“ (and then showering them with handouts for not working), it makes more sense to allow them to work and keep the economy alive with suitable protections for the vulnerable. That would allow herd immunity to develop. Our one-size-fits-all lockdown strategy resulted in a double whammy: economic devastation and the prospect of more infections and deaths due to lack of herd immunity.
Whether we can recover from this national nightmare and reclaim our free and prosperous nation depends on what we have learned and how we change. Will we realize that life is worth the risk and that avoiding pain and death is not always possible? Will we learn to resist groupthink and media sensationalizing? Will we become more future-oriented and responsible for the well-being of Americans yet to come?
We have to do better or go down in history as the generation that let the American experiment fail.Published in