Quote of the Day:

The battle against Covid-19 is entering a new phase, and the choice for society is whether to live with the virus or to live for it.

–Joseph Lapado in “How to Live with COVID, Not for It” in the WSJ

There are some encouraging signs on the COVID front, according to Dr. Joseph Lapado, who teaches at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine: cases are falling in many states that have gone through the lockdowns, the percentage of Americans expressing fears of escalation of the infection has declined, more testing is available.

Lapado suggests the country move into a post-panic phase of judiciously coping with the COVID and getting our lives back on track. In short, to enact the right policies for now and the future, we need to replace panic with realism. Lapado writes:

Policies forged in fear and panic have wrought tremendous damage in exchange for benefits that were attainable at a much lower cost. Over the past six months, we have managed to sow vicious conflict over health mandates among people who would otherwise be cordial; erode age-old social customs, like visible smiles and human touch, which are critical to social cohesion and personal well-being; and condemn millions of Americans to financial instability, depression and even domestic violence.

The collective goal of this new phase should be to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past. When faced in March with the choice between imposing limited shutdowns to buy hospitals time and increase capacity, and enormous, indefinite shutdowns that ignored societal and economic costs, most political leaders chose the latter. When faced in May and June with the choice between embracing policies that balanced Covid-19 prevention with the activities that give life meaning and policies that sowed distrust and stirred fierce passions over civil liberties, most political leaders chose the latter. We have the opportunity to choose differently this time.

Lapado praises the realism of a recent Center for Disease Control shift: the CDC says that the contacts of people who tested positive for COVID but are asymptomatic do not “necessarily” require testing. He observes:

The good sense of this recommendation is so plain, it is almost stupefying. Where is the controversy in placing disproportionate energy and attention on populations that are disproportionately at risk for harm from Covid-19? Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities—who represent less than 1% of the U.S. population—have comprised nearly half of deaths from Covid-19. A recent study in Annals of Internal Medicine reported that the infection fatality rate in noninstitutionalized persons under 40 was 0.01%, compared with 1.7% among people older than 60—a nearly 200-fold difference. Sensible policies focus special attention on populations facing the greatest harm.

This new policy has received a barrage of criticism, much from politicians who choose fear over science (yes, the science, according to Lapado, justifies the shift in policy). Moreover, the pandemic is caught up in the culture war.

My liberal friends (I still have them!) are inconsolable about the virus, believing that COVID will last far into the future. They need COVID as a stick to beat a President whom they despise. But their panic is real and they resist any encouraging facts (you know—science).

I have predicted that the virus would magically subside on Nov. 4. Now I am not so sure. All too many Americans of the left like the government’s ability to control people, and the Biden campaign has disgracefully promoted fear of a vaccine as a way to get at its opponent. They have been very effective in undermining public confidence.