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Brian Mark Weber / May 8, 2020

Limited Lockdowns Would Have Been Better

It’s clear that many governors went too far and that citizens could have fared better.

Earlier this year, British academic Neil Ferguson predicted 2.2 million coronavirus deaths in the United States. In response, Americans were asked to “trust the science” and go into a full lockdown. That was a mistake, and not just because Ferguson couldn’t even abide by his own lockdown advice.

In a domino effect, countries across Europe began shutting down, and American state governors followed suit. The consequences of the onerous executive orders have been devastating — arguably even more so than the virus itself. Today, our nation finds itself in a deep hole, and some of our leaders are continuing to dig.

As we can now see, Ferguson’s Imperial College model was seriously flawed. Actual deaths are a fraction of his dire prediction, largely because his model assumed that we’d do nothing to combat the spread of the virus. The choice, of course, was never between all or nothing.

Millions of Americans are out of work, food production is shutting down, business owners are arrested for daring to open their doors, domestic violence and suicide rates are soaring, church attendance is illegal, drones are watching us, neighbors are encouraged to snitch, critical surgeries are wait-listed, the Bill of Rights is being trampled, and our national debt is nearing $30 trillion.

All this due to a virus with a death rate under 1% — a virus that disproportionately attacks the elderly. And there’s little evidence the death toll would be higher without these crippling shutdowns. In fact, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo was “shocked” to learn this week that 66% of New York City virus patients were people who had stayed home.

Clearly, our nation’s one-size-fits-all approach was grievously wrong.

Dennis Prager writes, “The forcible prevention of Americans from doing anything except what politicians deem ‘essential’ has led to the worst economy in American history since the Great Depression of the 1930s. It is panic and hysteria, not the coronavirus, that created this catastrophe. And the consequences in much of the world will be more horrible than in America.”

When economies crash and GDP craters, poverty spreads. The corollary effects of poverty include starvation, violence, and disease.

Remember, the lockdowns were designed to “flatten the curve” and to prevent hospitals from being overburdened. Or so we were told. The curve has been flattened in many areas, but some governors are turning the screws even tighter. For example, California Gov. Gavin Newsome now says he won’t open up until there’s a vaccine.

Clearly, the total shutdown was an overreach and a failure. Instead, a targeted lockdown would’ve focused on protecting the elderly and the at-risk while not bringing the lives of younger and healthier people to a screeching halt. Where was this common sense a few months ago?

Responding to a working paper at MIT, the editorial board of The Wall Street Journal suggests that we shouldn’t “put the entire state in economic cold storage in the name of a false choice between saving lives and saving money.” The editors conclude, “On the growing evidence, targeted lockdowns can save more lives and more livelihoods.”

It looks like some states are moving in the right direction. Many are currently in a phase of reopening or have plans to do so. And some polls show the American public growing less concerned about the virus and more worried about when they’re going back to work.

Let’s hope we never make the same mistakes again.

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