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The CDC recently released some new figures regarding COVID-19 deaths. A lot of folks are talking and writing about these figures as if they are something of a bombshell. They aren’t that, in my view, but they are useful in illustrating what we’ve known practically from the beginning, and that is this: This disease is extremely vicious and deadly if you are in the high risk categories. If, on the other hand, you are in good health (especially if you are young), this disease presents a relatively low risk to you.

There was no reason, as it turns out, to lock down as most states did. They did so largely because of a computer model that estimated 2.2 million deaths in the U.S. from COVID-19. I remain convinced that the lockdowns were one of the greatest public policy boondoggles in the history of our country.

This doesn’t mean I don’t think COVID-19 poses a real danger. It most certainly does. But our approach to this disease needs to be similar to our approach to a myriad of other things in life. It is a matter of risk assessment and risk management.

One of the problems with the thinking of many with regard to the lockdowns is the failure to understand the great consequences they have. There are social, economic, and, yes, health consequences for what we’ve done. In the case of the economic consequences, we’ve done some things that will affect people for generations to come. 

A friend of mine wrote that not locking down was simply “letting people die so that the stores could stay open.” I didn’t buy her premise, of course, but what really struck me is that she seemed oblivious to the fact that a lot of people were going to get hurt and hurt badly by the lockdowns. I haven’t seen the updated numbers, but it was forecast in Rhode Island earlier this year, for example, that they would permanently lose 50 percent of their restaurants by the end of six months. If the development of a vaccine took a year, they would permanently lose 75 percent of them. Think of the lost jobs and the lost wealth in such a scenario. Think of the lost tax revenue to the state. It’s all rather mind-boggling. 

It didn’t have to be that way. Our health experts knew very early on who was at high risk. Our resources and efforts should have been directed to protect the people in those high risk categories. In the case of nursing homes and long term care facilities, the U.S. (as well as other countries) miserably failed in protecting many of them. Why we were obsessed with closing businesses and schools and the like while thousands of people were dying in these facilities will be something I suspect that epidemiologists and other medical experts will be studying for years to come.

This is Brian Myers with your Caffeinated Thought of the Week.

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