Who's to blame
I recognize the human condition. We tend to cover (sometimes erroneously) for those we approve of, and to vilify (sometimes erroneously) those we dislike. Those who support Trump’s handling of COVID would probably have vilified Obama even if his actions had been precisely the same, and vice versa. It’s simply the way we’re wired. So, we’re wise to take a step back and look at the mosaic with as much objectivity as possible….
Recall that, when Trump shut down travel between the US and China in late January, he was called a racist reactionary. His leadership was called into question. 10 weeks later, many are saying Trump didn’t do enough.
So, evidently, he was a poor leader for reacting too soon, but also a poor leader for not reacting soon enough.
Again, human condition. We’re all guilty.
We’ve been told that COVID is an unknown, which is why we’re throwing every conceivable idea at the wall to see what sticks. So, we’re submitting to government restrictions while simultaneously (and selectively) crying “poor leadership”. And, those leading us (from the top all the way down) are telling us publicly that they don’t have a precise understanding of what we’re dealing with.
The entire situation makes about as much sense as the previous paragraph.
For review: Many worried of 1918-level mortality rates. In reality, we’re nowhere near that. CA’s governor predicted that half his state would be infected (that’s around 20 million). Early alarmist predictions for the US en masse were 2 million deaths. That was then reduced to 250k, then 100k, then 60k. As I write this, we’re under 40k and some are saying that we’ve hit the peak. All of the model projections have been flawed - sometimes profoundly so. And, that’s understandable since this is a novel virus. We’ve played it safe because, again, we don’t fully understand what we’re dealing with. But, it appears that this lack of understanding may have led us to something of an overreach (and that observation may prove, in retrospect, to be a masterpiece of understatement).
I don’t mean to imply that COVID isn’t bad. It’s obviously terrible. But, in 1918, the body count was somewhere around 50 million. With COVID, we’re currently 4-6 months into it with 154k deaths worldwide. A terrible number, but not in any way commensurate with the early predictions (let alone the Spanish Flu).
Any “success” will tempt us to laud the Social Distancing movement. But, just as a “for instance”: I’ve been out a few times over the last several weeks. In my congested county, many are going about their business (despite having been encouraged not to). Traffic keeps moving. The grocery stores and take-out places are quite busy (albeit with many using the face masks that we’re told work quite well, or possibly not at all). Despite that, our total COVID diagnosis count is currently at 33 (and possibly one death, but it’s not showing up here). My state of TN has a population of almost 9 million. Thus far, the COVID mortality count in TN is 141.
Importantly, the virus has, almost without question, been in the US since last fall (consider the amount of travel between China and the US from September through January 31). That means that countless people have likely had COVID and were either asymptomatic, or were misdiagnosed. Either way, most of them are alive.
We’re wise to be circumspect before attributing blame / praise to anyone or anything. Based on current trends, I hope the over-arching question coming out of this will be: Was this virus bad enough to warrant our response to it? Will the years-long economic consequences of shutting down create more suffering than the virus ever could have? We can’t yet know the answer. But, it’s a reasonable question that thoughtful people ought to be asking.
Trump, Dr. Fauci, state Governors, and everyone else will need to be assessed in that light… which will be tough to do without the benefit of hindsight.
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