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October 30, 2020

Europe Locks Down While the U.S. Opens Up

Our two divergent paths offer a case study in effective pandemic response.

We take no joy in reporting that Europe is once again locking itself down, this time to combat a second wave of the Wuhan Flu. Lockdowns have, after all, proved ruinous to both people and economies, but the Old Continent doesn’t seem to have learned this valuable lesson.

And globalism being what it is, Europe’s ignorance is causing the rest of us to pay the price with them. As The Wall Street Journal editorial board writes, “Global stock markets sold off Wednesday, as they have all week, on news of new government-ordered lockdowns in Europe amid rising Covid infections. As before, the shutdowns are a blunderbuss response that won’t eliminate the virus, but they will do considerable economic and public-health damage. Germany, which was supposed to be Europe’s anti-Covid model, ordered a one-month shutdown of restaurants, bars, fitness studios and theaters. Hotels won’t be able to host tourists, and public gatherings can’t be larger than 10 people from two households.”

Despite this, and despite coronavirus spikes here in the U.S., President Donald Trump isn’t inclined to follow suit. Speaking at a rally in Tampa, the president said, “We’re never gonna lock down again. We locked down, we understood the disease, and now we’re open for business.”

To the president’s point, why should we lock down? What evidence is there that such measures will work this time around? Besides, the U.S. economy grew at an eye-popping 33.1% during a third quarter when we were largely — though not entirely — reopened for business. And this was without a renewal of government stimulus spending and transfer payments.

As the Journal reports, “Thursday’s GDP report looks like the long-predicted V-shaped recovery after the second-quarter’s lockdown-induced collapse. The rebound was almost across the board. Personal consumption contributed 25.27 percentage points to growth, with 16.04 from services and 9.24 from goods. Industries most hurt by spring lockdowns bounced back strongly, including motor vehicles, health care, and even food services and recreation.”

How does our economic performance stack up against our G7 trading partners? In terms of GDP losses for the year, the U.S. is the envy of the bunch. Our forecasted drop of 3.6% pales in comparison to Germany’s 6%, Canada’s 7.1%, France’s 9.8%, the UK’s 9.8%, and Italy’s atrocious 10.6%.

As we wrote regarding the election yesterday, “It’s still the economy, stupid.”

The message is clear, and it has been for some time: The virus is both deadly and stubborn, but cowering in our basements as one candidate has done won’t make it go away. Instead, people and nations must face it head-on while protecting vulnerable populations. Only then will herd immunity be established and the virus denied fertile ground for further spread.

Here, the lesson of Sweden — and the lesson of the Great Barrington Declaration — looms large. As The Daily Wire’s Brooke Conrad writes, “Back in May, Sweden had the highest COVID-19 death rate (based on 7-day averages) of any country in the world and ranked 7th on the list of overall per capita death rate. But in the following months, Sweden’s daily death count steadily declined, in contrast to many of the countries embracing lockdown strategies. Now, Sweden sits at 17th, and despite previously having the highest death rate in the world, recorded only seven new COVID-19 deaths on October 27th, and just one death the day before.”

Conrad continues, “Generally, the scientific community is expected to welcome new ideas and engage in vigorous debate in the pursuit of knowledge and understanding. But the vigor with which the media and scientific community have opposed the Great Barrington Declaration suggests that its opposition originates far beyond mere scientific disputes.”

This is clearly the case. The debate has long since moved past the realm of science, past any thoughtful discussion about the virtues of lockdowns versus herd immunity.

The coronavirus debate is now about one thing: control.

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