Americans have been involved in perhaps the most expensive medical experiment in human history only to discover that “lockdowns imposed massive costs with a scarcity of proven benefits.”
Not surprising, argues James Freeman in the WSJ, “imposing wrenching changes on a society without calm consideration of costs and benefits is bound to end in catastrophe.”
Where Is the Voice of Reason?
Unfortunately, since 2020 not many reasonable people have been running America’s public health bureaucracies. And so the coronavirus panic led to fear-inducing measures targeting just one of the many threats to human health, with hardly a thought for the collateral damage or even the unlikelihood that business lockdowns and school closures could somehow manage to stop the virus. (They didn’t.)
Focused Protection vs Mandates
In September 2021, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R., Fla.) appointed Dr. Joseph A. Ladapo to be Florida’s surgeon general. In a mostly critical story on Dr. Ladapo, the NYT quotes various lockdown advocates, “as if it’s an open question on who turned out to be right…”
The Times piece naturally takes aim at Florida, where Gov. DeSantis embraced a strategy of focused protection for the high-risk elderly and freedom rather than mandates to allow daily life to proceed and citizens to make healthy choices.
Ms. Mazzei writes in the NYT:
Florida ranks among the 20 worst states for its pandemic death rate and among the 12 worst for its case rate, but Mr. DeSantis has argued that the state also suffers when its economy and schools are restricted.
Countering Ms. Mazzei, the Times’ own website notes that New York and New Jersey, each of which pursued aggressive lockdown strategies, masking mandates and other draconian measures, “have suffered more Covid deaths per capita than Florida since the start of the pandemic.”
Beware “Follow the Science”
Before being appointed Florida’s surgeon general, Dr. Ladapo was a professor at UCLA’s medical school and a clinician on Covid’s frontline. On 24 March 2020, Dr. Ladapo wrote in USA Today:
Please don’t believe politicians who say we can control this with a few weeks of shutdown. To contain a virus with shutdowns, you must either go big, which is what China did, or you don’t go at all. . . .
Dr. Ladapo’s Prescription for Local/State Leaders:
- Keep shutdowns short
- Keep the economy going
- Keep schools in session
- Keep jobs intact
- Focus single-mindedly on building the capacity we need to survive this into our health care system.
From James Taranto, WSJ Features Editor:
The Omicron surge has triggered a mutation in the conventional wisdom about Covid-19. The virus “is here to stay,” oncologist Ezekiel Emanuel and two other experts who advised the Biden transition proclaimed in a Jan. 6 article for the Journal of the American Medical Association, “A National Strategy for the ‘New Normal’ of Life With Covid.” That means no more “perpetual state of emergency”: “The goal for the ‘new normal’ . . . does not include eradication or elimination.”
Joseph Ladapo reached the same conclusion almost two years earlier.
No, Florida’s permissive policies of focusing on healthy people did not stop Covid, continues Mr. Taranto. But restrictive policies in other states didn’t either.
It’s an open question whether lockdowns, masking, forced vaccination and the rest have conferred any benefit at all. As the federal government and states like California and New York search for a “new normal,” they should consider following Florida’s example of simply being normal.
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