Wednesday, March 25, 2020
We are only at the beginning of the crisis. The number of people infected with the coronavirus is still growing exponentially. Most of those who are sick were infected so recently that we don’t yet know how many of them will live or die.
And yet, public figures, especially on the right, are already calling on us to beat a hasty retreat in this desperate fight. “The costs of this national shutdown are growing by the hour,” the editorial board of The Wall Street Journal wrote a few days ago. It is about time to wind down the “vast social-distancing project of the last 10 days.”
Similarly, in light of the economic damage that the current response is causing, the New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman argued that we need “less herd mentality and more herd immunity.” His proposal basically boils down to accepting that the majority of Americans will be infected: “Let many of us get the coronavirus, recover and get back to work—while doing our utmost to protect those most vulnerable to being killed by it.”
The left says the virus must be stopped with massive lockdowns or we will suffer a health catastrophe. The right says the lockdowns will cause an epic economic disaster. Both might be right.