The coronavirus lockdowns are our version of medieval medicine

By Kevin Roche

Another week of even more insanity.  You might think any diversion from the epidemic would be welcome, but not protesting, rioting and looting over yet another episode of inexplicable police behavior.  As if we don’t have enough problems.  It occurred to me this week that the extreme shutdowns we have all endured as a result of the epidemic are like the practice of bleeding which was used by medical practitioners in medieval times.  And they have just as much science behind them.  They also are having the same effect on the patient.  You take enough blood out of anything and it will die.  That is certainly what is happening to our economy.  And one piece of fuel for the rioting is that just as we finally were making progress on joblessness among minorities and real-income gains for lower-paid workers, we stupidly shut the economy down, and of course these people are hurt the worst.  Locked up in your home, no job, little prospect of your job coming back; I might be pretty frustrated too.

There must be a lot of politicians who are breathing a sigh of relief over the distractions, as people were beginning to figure out that the lockdowns probably weren’t necessary and that almost all the people with serious illness or who die are in nursing home type settings, are very old and infirm at home or have serious pre-existing illnesses.  I said yesterday and I will repeat it today:  the incompetence of the handling of protests is the same incompetence we have seen in epidemic response.  Yep, we definitely need more and more of all that governmental competence.

My weekly recap would focus on some pretty significant scientific developments that should be hopeful.  As I mentioned a few times in the past week, it does appear that a significant portion of the population has pre-existing immune defenses that work against the current coronavirus strain, especially for younger people.  This would be a perfect opportunity for politicians to declare victory and re-open the schools and all activities for children and college-age students.  And for them to tell the vast majority of the population that they don’t face serious risk and the epidemic will likely cool off earlier that we expected.  But I am not sure we can count on politicians being smart enough to do that.

And it is becoming apparent as well that in the states that have loosened up, we aren’t seeing a big upswing in cases.  It may be occurring, but with so many cases being asymptomatic, people probably aren’t even aware if they are infected.  That continuing evidence of the asymptomatic and mild nature of almost all cases is also encouraging news.  Not so encouraging, the gathering data on excess deaths due to the lockdowns.  Opiate deaths are up, deaths from people not seeking needed care are up.  More to come on that front, I fear.