By Bob Luddy
We are cowering from fear of COVID-19, but quarantine is not a cure to end the virus.
The extreme measures currently being taken to shut down our nation in order to flee a virus will have grave consequences long after the quarantine ends. The future cost to America and our families will be a severe recession (upwards of 20 percent unemployment) if the healthy don’t return to work very soon.
America is suffering from a vast and severe decline in quality of life due to the shutdown measures. State mandates have destroyed businesses and the lives of common working people. Millions of Americans are now furloughed, unemployed, or have experienced significantly decreased hours and wages. Many will never return to their jobs, and their careers and aspirations are shattered. It is estimated that up to 25 percent of all temporarily closed restaurants will never reopen unless the shutdown mandates are lifted this month. Families who have spent decades building their businesses may be forced to permanently close due to lack of cash flow. Farmers, who are crucial food producers, will soon go bankrupt, reducing food supplies and causing shortages.
COVID-19 will not disappear because we stayed home.
Health care is a problem, too. In March 2020, only 3 percent of U.S. deaths were due to COVID-19, yet the majority of health-care resources have been devoted to coronavirus efforts. Yet heart disease and cancer remain the top two leading causes of death in the U.S. (nearly 45 percent of all deaths), killing over 1.3 million Americans every year. Care for these patients is not elective; it is imperative for life.
The current political decision-makers are imposing shutdowns on industries that do not affect their own paychecks. If federal, state, and local governments furloughed all workers except for medical, military, fire, police, and those issuing checks for Medicare/Medicaid and Social Security, and the entire country suffered financially in parity, the shutdown would surely end almost immediately.
Some countries have successfully fought the pandemic without shutdowns. Sweden and South Korea have already proven this model with far better results than the U.S. and have endured only minimal job or economic destruction. Both have resisted shuttering their economies, and both continue to have very low death rates, no higher than the common flu.
Hiding from viruses is not the solution. COVID-19 will not disappear because we stayed home. Many researchers have shown that the best way to defeat coronavirus is to allow all healthy people to continue working with reasonable precautions and to keep the elderly and immunocompromised people quarantined. Most healthy people who contract the virus will have minimal or no symptoms. This solution allows millions to develop herd immunity to COVID-19, eventually rendering it a non-threat.
Part of our problem comes from treating medical experts’ predictions about the virus’s spread as settled facts. Those predictions have changed as the data changes — and the data is not always reliable. Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the key members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, told Newsmax’s Greg Kelly on January 21, 2020, “This [coronavirus] is not a major threat to the people of the United States.” And just this week, Dr. Deborah Birx, also a member of the Task Force, openly admitted that the federal government is counting all COVID-19 patients who die of any cause as COVID-19 deaths, even if coronavirus did not lead to the death itself. It is clear that the CDC, NIH, and FDA have failed to effectively handle this situation, and worse, they have blocked potential solutions until recently.
The government purports to be solving the spread of the virus, but at what cost? And what is the plan when virus season returns later in the year? Job losses and economic disruption are measured in hours as the central planners talk about keeping citizens bound to their homes for months.
New York City is a worst-case scenario with 40 percent of all U.S. coronavirus deaths. We cannot make national policy based on worst-case projections. In most states, the number of COVID-19 cases is low and the death projections are wildly overstated. If needed, we can keep states such as New York shut down, but we cannot bankrupt the entire country, or we will find ourselves in a financial crisis.
Everything in life involves tradeoffs. Trading the entire U.S. economy to prevent coronavirus deaths that so far have not exceeded any usual death counts by any cause, anywhere in the world, is irrational. A depressed economy will lead to a much poorer and sicker society, leading to far more challenges in the end.
In the 230 years of its existence, the American republic has never shut down our economy based on any real or perceived threats. It is time to return to common sense to solve problems, not to central planning and groupthink.
It is vital that healthy Americans return to normalcy with well-thought-out precautions. The consequences from stay-in-place orders will be far worse than the possible health consequences of COVID-19.
Americans must return to work immediately and resume our normal life.
Bob Luddy is CEO and Founder of CaptiveAire and the former Board Chairman of Civitas Institute
This article originally appeared in The American Spectator