Right from the Start: What Should've Been Our Pandemic Response?
In March 2020 the WHO declared a pandemic and then virtually every state went into lockdown.
But in March 2020 there was a voice in the darkness who said exactly what we should’ve done that would’ve saved more lives and livelihoods than any other approach that has been proposed then or since…
Here’s what I wrote…
I think we should reopen businesses in areas where hospital capacity permits. Before this pandemic, U.S. hospitals were already operating at 95% capacity, which means we need to be producing beds and ventilators FASTER than they are being occupied. Each local and state government should be looking at their area’s hospital capacity to determine whether to shut things down or open them back up. Once businesses reopen in your area then you should continue to wash your hands, wear a mask, and keep your distance to minimize the spread of the virus, but don’t freak out too much if you get the virus because 86% of cases are mild or asymptomatic. Ultimately, we should permit the slow reopening of business because much like with post-WW2 when most of the world’s industries remained inoperative, the American economic engine could kick into gear in order to meet the world’s needs. By embracing the middle ground, the United States would have a higher percent of coronavirus cases than say China, but in return we’d be preserving our freedoms and I’d argue saving more lives in the long run… because once India, for example, ends their lockdown they’ll see a spike in coronavirus cases at which point, if the U.S. has already flatten the curve by developing a higher immunity, then we’d be in a better position to send our dormant beds, ventilators, and medical staff to help them handle their impending crisis. So the way for America to lead here isn’t by actively running toward immunity or by passively waiting for it, but by cautiously walking toward it.
Am I a visionary? A hero the world needs, but doesn’t currently want? The greatest policy thinker of our times?
It’d be inappropriate for me to speculate.
On face value though my suggestions may not sound that much different than what was done, but in practice it would’ve saved millions of lives…
Some people are against lockdowns no matter what. Such black-and-white thinking is indicative of mental illness and/or adolescence. Leave them to their bunkers and basements.
But perhaps you believe “focused protection” as laid out in the Great Barrington Declaration (published October 2020) would’ve been better than locking down given COVID-19’s relatively low fatality rate, but the problem with implementing this approach in March was that at the time there was no scientific nor democratic consensus on what constituted “the vulnerable” and more importantly our hospital system was already on the brink of rationing so it would’ve been premature to encourage people to “live their lives normally.”
And so in the beginning, virtually everyone agreed with “flattening the curve” to “not overrun our hospital system,” but where I differed with the mainstream narrative is that I emphatically stated with zero hedging that we should, “reopen businesses in areas where hospital capacity permits.”
Under my proposal, fewer places would’ve had to lockdown with America fully reopened in a month MAX.
This didn’t happen though because people had and/or came up with additional reasons to continue the lockdowns such as “wait until”…
Winter to see its effects
We flattened the curve again
R0 is below 1
Vaccinated the vulnerable
Vaccinated 80% of the population
The red moon
In my opinion, these “wait until’s” were mostly a political guise since what really determined the length and severity of lockdowns was whether the public’s frustration with lockdowns superseded their fear of COVID.
I later learned there was a small group of individuals calling for, “raise the line” (Vox article published April 7th) which is similar in concept, but Anthony Galli didn’t just want to raise the line for America, but to increase our production capacity to such a degree that once hospital capacity met the minimum standard of 80% we could’ve exported our excess to a world in lockdown.
Rather than shrink the economy and temporarily increase hospital capacity, we should’ve grown the economy and massively increased overall capacity.
Rather than sending out armies of troops and guns like in WW2 we’d be sending out armies of nurses and beds.
A great executive (mayor, governor, president) would’ve therefore not let a “crisis go to waste” where instead of using his emergency powers and a frightened population to futilely moderate the medical-media complex’s control he should’ve increased the American people’s choices.
America has a highly regulated and extremely concentrated healthcare system.
A great executive would’ve slashed away at our healthcare’s bureaucracy by abolishing medical licensing so that hospitals could’ve hired anyone to be a nurse, abolishing certificate-of-needs so that anyone could open a hospital, and abolishing prohibitions on buying prescription drugs from overseas and health insurance across state lines just to name some of the red tape that constrains supply.
And then on the spending side, instead of handing out welfare checks we should’ve handed out paychecks by contracting out the mass production of N95 masks, hospitals, nursing schools, beds, treatments, etc. I have no doubt that if we had the political will then the richest country in human history could’ve had a surplus in every pandemic-related product and service.
Yes, we may have had more American deaths in the short term, but this country was built by those who gambled on a better life.
The next time the world shrieks, “slow the spread,” I hope we embrace our foundational ethos as the home of the brave and the land of the free to use our unparalleled power and therefore moral responsibility to also proclaim, “spread the supply!”
In the end, we need not wait for the next pandemic to ramp up production. If we free up healthcare and invest more in pandemic-related supplies then when we’re hit with another low-fatality contagion we won’t need to lockdown because we’ll have more than enough hospital capacity, which means the New World, in all our power and might, can more quickly “step forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.”