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Last week, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer doubled down, extending the Michigan lockdown until mid-May. The new executive order is in modest ways an improvement on its immediate predecessors, which I described two weeks ago in a post entitled “The Wicked Witch of the Midwest.” One can now operate a motorboat; buy paint for one’s house and seeds for one’s garden; and even travel to a second home. In other ways, however, ”the temporary requirement” that everyone “suspend activities that are not necessary to sustain or protect life” is pure idiocy. It still rules out elective surgery while allowing abortion – presumably because, in the world of Gretchen Whitmer and today’s feminists, the not-yet-born are not really alive. Our governor has even had the effrontery to defend abortion as “life-enhancing.” In Michigan (and in some other states), some must die so that others can enjoy themselves.
Given what we knew and what we did not know, when the lockdowns began, it may have made sense for a brief time to systematically minimize human contact. The Wuhan coronavirus is exceedingly contagious, and we then possessed no herd immunity. On the Diamond Princess, virtually everyone was exposed, 18% of those on the cruise contracted the virus, and nearly 10% of those who did contract it died. In Wuhan, China and in northern Italy, the epidemic overwhelmed the health system – and there was reason to fear that the like might happen here. The aim of the lockdowns was not to prevent the spread of the virus. Given how easily it could be contracted and the absence of a vaccine, it was not even possible to impede it for long. Our aim was modest: to delay its onset and slow down the spread in the hope that our hospitals and health professionals could cope.
We know a bit more now. We know that most of those who contract the disease are asymptomatic; that the asymptomatic are, nonetheless, contagious; and that those most apt to die are elderly individuals and others with underlying health conditions. In Michigan, the mean age of those who die is 76 and the average age is 74.5. In Italy, where half of the population is over 47, I read that 99% of those who died suffered from other comorbidities. In New York, 94% suffered from at least one comorbidity and 88% suffered from more than one. Those who go on cruises on ships such as the Diamond Princess are, as one wag put it, “the newly wed and the nearly dead.” It was the presence of a great many old folks on the voyage that explains the high mortality rate.