The author of the following article is a non-clinician
Way back in March, days before all hell broke loose and the widespread shutdowns began, I wrote an article in these pages describing the twin crises about to befall us: A health crisis caused by the novel coronavirus that purportedly emerged from the Wuhan, China virology lab, and a behavioral crises caused by panicked overreactions to that virus.
At the time, I was far more afraid of the behavioral responses than I was of the virus itself.
Those early days feel long ago. We’ve learned and experienced a great deal in the nearly-seven months since the world recognized the imperative of "doing something" in the face of this pandemic. We’ve lost celebrities and loved ones to the pandemic.
We’ve witnessed global leaders — from Boris Johnson (early on) to Donald Trump just a few days ago — contract the illness, then recover.
We’ve seen governments around the free world restrict the rights of their citizens in unprecedented ways. We’ve had entirely new social conventions foisted upon us.
That said, I stand by my original assessment: The damage we’ve done to the social and economic fabric of America — and globally —far surpasses the substantial harm that this pandemic has wrought. More importantly, and much to my surprise, the behavioral crisis has given us a glimpse of the future. It has revealed — with far more clarity than anything before it — just how stark the differences are between America’s political parties
From day one, President Trump’s goal has been to avoid a panic, take targeted precautions, and allow life to proceed as normally as possible under difficult circumstances.
That’s the message that Bob Woodward’s recent book revealed as dominating the President’s thoughts in January and February. It’s the message the president shared immediately upon his release from Walter Reed thanks to his own bout with COVID-19.
It’s the message the president has tried to convey throughout — largely unsuccessfully.
The message most Americans have received is the one that Democrats and media prefer: Panic. Large parts of the country have been treating COVID as if it’s a death sentence.
In 1665, when the bubonic plague seized London, roughly 25% of the city’s residents died in the space of 23 weeks. Even the worst-case, zero-mitigation scenarios forecast for COVID — multiplied by an order of magnitude — wouldn’t have approached that type of devastation.
To the contrary, it’s been clear since very early in this pandemic that most people who came in contact with the virus would not get infected; most who got infected would exhibit only mild symptoms; and most who exhibited severe systems would recover.
While we still don’t know about lingering or long-term effects, we knew almost immediately that only the elderly, immunocompromised, or otherwise unhealthy faced an elevated risk of death.
Even there, the threat has been exaggerated greatly.
Data shows that even for those living in nursing homes — by far the most vulnerable segment of the population — recovery rates are around 84%. For Americans 70 and over — including those living in nursing homes — recovery rates are around 95%.
That means that among older Americans living independently, recovery rates ae not far below the 99+% characterizing the population as a whole.
In other words, what the nation just witnessed vis-à-vis President Trump is hardly unusual.
Granted, he had far greater medical attention and focus than nearly anyone, but at the end of the day his bout with COVID was a non-story. An energetic, independent, man over 70, with some risk factors, contracted a viral respiratory disease worse than the flu but not as bad as pneumonia (to which it sometimes leads, but usually does not), and recovered quickly.
Just like 97-98% of all similarly situated Americans.
The hysteria emanating from the pro-panic left demonstrates just how much they’ve exploited the situation. In a moment of grave uncertainty and fear, the American people like so many of history’s unfortunate peoples — called out for someone to save us from a new and terrifying threat. We granted governors and mayors, and to a lesser extent the president and Congress, unprecedented emergency powers.
A minority — including President Trump — wielded those powers responsibly.
Most simply asserted a division of human activities into "essential" and "non-essential," suspended individual liberties, and bankrupted small businesses. They used the pandemic as an excuse to regulate religious expression, assembly, business, gun ownership, and dress codes — all in the name of "following the science."
Curiously, the science never seemed to interfere with the industries, occupations, and political preferences most common among their own supporters.
America will vote long before either the health crisis or the behavioral crisis abates. Thanks to the behavioral crisis, however, the choice has rarely been clearer.
Will America opt for a future in which individuals remain free to choose their own activities, associations, businesses, and risk levels?
Or, will America choose a future in which a small "enlightened" elite imposes decisions "for our own good and that of society at large?"
That’s the real question on next month’s ballot.
Dr. Bruce Abramson is a Principal at JBB&A Strategies, a Director of the ACEK Fund, a founder of the American Restoration Institute and the author most recently of American Restoration: Winning the Second American Civil War. Read Bruce Abramson's Reports — More Here.
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