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Tags: Coronavirus | Donald Trump | Education | Health Topics | data | fauci | statistics

We Never Signed on for Govt by Epidemiologists

the us declaration of independence
(Dana Rothstein/Dreamstime)

By    |   Sunday, 12 April 2020 08:42 AM

President Trump recently explained his decision to shut down the economy:

"Two very smart people," he said, cautioned him that if he did not encourage social distancing and prevent Americans from coming into contact with each other, up to 2 million or more of us would have died of Covid-19.

Presumably these two expert epidemiological advisers were relying on the models created at Imperial College, London, and the University of Washington models, now adjusted downward to suggest that perhaps fewer than 60,000 will die of the virus.

As this is written, more than 16,000 Americans have purportedly perished of this new viral threat; when this is over, it's likely that the total of Americans who succumbed will be somewhere south of the 60,000 figure.

The economic recovery, however, remains uncertain.

The nation’s top epidemiologist, Dr. Anthony Fauci, warns that the viral threat is still out there; that it may return in the fall after abating over the summer. Fauci even goes so far as to suggest that in the future, Americans should refrain from shaking hands with each other — since that practice tends to spread disease.

If the purpose of life were to avoid disease at all costs, what the epidemiologists and their models suggested would make perfect sense — but life is not simply about avoiding death.

Life is actually about many more things, not the least of which is loving one another.

This love always used to express itself in words, but often, even more poignantly, by touch shaking hands, kissing or embracing each other.

Is that to go as well?

To suggest that is to reveal its absurdity.

If touch and human contact go, so does the ultimate act of love, the reproduction of the human race, an act which not only involves touch, but the actual dangerous exchange of bodily fluids.

In our age of sexually transmitted diseases, as well as virally transmitted ones, it’s a wonder the epidemiologists haven’t sought to ban sex, although perhaps the notion of "safe sex," of always using prophylactic protection, is a step in that direction.

This runs counter to the biblical admonition to be fruitful and multiply, and the pre-Easter custom in some churches of washing feet — in emulation of what Jesus did for his disciples — will now presumably have to be abandoned, as the ceremony loses a bit of meaning if it is done with rubber gloves, masks — and at a safe social distance.

In a normal day, before the current Coronavirus madness, about 8000 Americans died, from heart disease, cancer, automobile accidents, and myriad other causes.

There have been some indications that even with this new pandemic, our mortality rate has not grown significantly, and there has even been some speculation that it's lower than usual.

It's too early to tell for sure, and, because such statistics are not kept, we may never know how many of us perished from this new plague, and how man died from other causes  —but still carrying the virus.

More disturbing, because there are monetary incentives to classifying deaths as due to the virus, and because there are even additional funds available from the federal government if patients are placed on ventilators, these inducements to caregiving institutions may affect calculations and practice.

Modern medicine is miraculous, but we did not break from the British to establish government by epidemiologists.

The last words our representatives wrote in the Declaration of Independence were "with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor."

Before that the authors of this Founding document acknowledged that they were "appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions," and they declared they were acting “in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies," as they did "solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States."

As Lincoln was later to acknowledge, ours was to be a government "of the people, for the people, by the people."

We’ve lost much of our fortunes in this pandemic, and we have left our schools and churches bereft of human contact, as we seek to implement mere shadows of society over the internet.

Perhaps President Trump had no real choice given the way the data was presented to him, but going forward, we might do well being less reliant upon statistics; instead capturing more of that sacred honor, more of that reliance on the protection of divine providence — and more of that appeal to the supreme judge of the world.

Stephen B. Presser is the Raoul Berger Professor of Legal History Emeritus at Northwestern’s Pritzker School of Law, the Legal Affairs Editor of Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture, and a contributor to The University Bookman. He graduated from Harvard College and Harvard Law School, and has taught at Rutgers University, the University of Virginia, and University College, London. He has often testified on constitutional issues before committees of the United States Congress, and is the author of "Recapturing the Constitution: Race, Religion, and Abortion Reconsidered" (Regnery, 1994) and "Law Professsors: Three Centuries of Shaping American Law" (West Academic, 2017). Presser was a Visiting Scholar in Conservative Thought and Policy at the University of Colorado's Boulder Campus for 2018-2019. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.

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We’ve lost much of our fortunes in this pandemic, and we have left our schools and churches bereft of human contact, as we seek to implement mere shadows of society over the internet.
data, fauci, statistics
Sunday, 12 April 2020 08:42 AM
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