If Mississippi and the rest of the nation can reopen without increasing the COVID-19 daily death numbers, then this horrible chapter in world history will soon be over. The panic will collapse like a house of cards.
If that happens, the world will be over several hurdles: We will have proven that a virus can’t wipe out humanity in the age of globalism. Plus we will get to reset the recession / bull market time clock, allowing another 10-year run of growth and prosperity. It is always darkest before the dawn. Good times are ahead.
I predict a very rapid recovery. The jobs that were lost will be quickly regained. Social interaction will return to normal. The football stadiums will be full this fall. A vaccine will be ready sooner than we think.
But then, I always have been an optimist. It seems to me people can be divided, among many ways, between alarmists and calmists.
When Chicken Little gets worked up, the alarmists do too. The calmists just yawn.
I don’t mean this as a criticism of the alarmists. It takes all kind of people to make the world go around. The world faces serious problems that need attention. It’s just that, in the vast majority of cases, the sky doesn’t actually fall.
There are good reasons for optimism. Sweden, which did not lock down, is experiencing the same declines in COVID-19 deaths that its European neighbors are experiencing. Although Sweden has far more deaths per capita than neighbors Norway and Finland, it has fewer than neighbors England and France. Sweden’s doing pretty good.
In our country, states that did not lock down are experiencing half the deaths per capita as their lockdown neighbors. That bodes well for opening up.
It will take years of study to determine whether the world panicked and made matters worse or whether the lockdowns worked.
Amazingly, there is very little scientific evidence proving the efficacy of face masks, social distancing, lockdowns and curfews. The world, willy nilly, embarked on a grand experiment.
Experiments executed on a grand scale usually fail. Think Kemper. Think communism.
Karl Marx was a brilliant economist with excellent academic credentials. His “scientific” view of social and economic matters was endorsed by thousands of credentialed academics around the world. Yet his theories were bunk and led to the deaths of tens of millions when put into practice.
As the statistics come in, we are discovering a large number of “excess deaths” not related to COVID-19. These deaths are nearly as great as the COVID-19 deaths. It will take time to tell, but many people may have died because they were too afraid to go to the hospital for treatment.
Losing your job reduces your life expectancy by 1.5 years, studies show. With 35 million jobs lost, that’s 52 million life years – 35 times more life years lost than COVID-19. The cure has been far worse than the disease.
The medical experts were so wrong. As a journalist, that’s not the least bit surprising to me, but let’s hope the world has learned a lesson. The experts only know a fraction of what’s really going on. Bloodletting never worked.
The best COVID-19 expert was William Farr, regarded as the founder of medical statistics. He died 137 years ago.
Farr noticed that epidemics all have a predictable bell curve pattern. The same bell curve we’re seeing universally with COVID-19. It’s a couple of months start to finish.
Europe is almost done. Deaths have dropped dramatically in Italy, Spain and elsewhere. The U.S. is about a month behind Europe.
Although deadly, COVID-19 is turning out to be not nearly as deadly as we feared. Last week, Tennessee tested 5,000 inmates. A third of them tested positive and 98 percent of them were totally asymptomatic.
Same with grocery store workers.
Grocery sales are up 30 percent. Stores are packed. But grocery store workers haven’t been dying any more than anybody else.
That’s herd immunity. It happens in prisons first where social distancing is impossible. It’s now happening around the world.
New studies show that COVID-19 herd immunity can happen when as few as 10 percent of the population has been exposed. That’s because COVID-19 doesn’t have the same effect on everyone. When you factor in this “reaction heterogeneity,” the herd immunity threshold drops from 60 to 10 percent. New York City is already at 22 percent and the epidemic is petering out there.
As Memorial Day approaches, it bears remembering that 400,000 young men gave their lives in World War II to protect our way of life. We shouldn’t let fear of a virus destroy what these men died to defend.
I find myself longing for Margaret Thatcher. I wonder what the Iron Lady would have to say about all of this. I suspect it would be something about a stiff upper lip. Keep calm and carry on.
It is true that globalism and air travel allows faster and greater transmission of germs. But it also gives the world better global herd immunity. That’s why this wasn’t like the American Indians being wiped out by smallpox or even like the Spanish Flu. Our immune system, a gift from God, was one step ahead of us and we didn’t even realize it.
Americans are testing positive for COVID-19 antibodies who were ill months before the virus was supposed to have arrived in the U.S. This unseen war has going on a lot longer than we think. There is much we don’t see.
What kills COVID-19 victims is not so much the virus itself but an overreaction of the human immune system to the viral invasion. It’s called the “cytokine storm.”
How ironic that our society, by overreacting, mimicked the very killing process of the virus itself.