Letter to the editor: Physical and economic health are not mutually exclusive
Now that we are weeks into the shutdown of our economy to control COVID-19, it is increasingly important for our leaders at all levels of government to engage in a risk assessment of the rationale for the continued shutdown. The only constant about the predictive models driving the closures is that they have been wrong. They have gone from predicting 2 million deaths in the U.S. to 60,000. We understand more about who is most at risk and how to protect them. Protecting the physical safety of those most at risk versus protecting the economic health of everyone are not mutually exclusive choices. The massive shutdown currently in place is designed to prevent some unknown percent of the population getting the virus, of which some unknown percent will get sick, of which some unknown percent may die. But we know it is 100% certain that we are doing massive economic damage to everyone, which will be irreparable to many who can least afford it. When faced with imperfect information, one is faced with imperfect decisions that will offend someone at some level. Government leaders have been focused on the health risks, as they should when faced with an unknown disease with a potentially high mortality rate, but our leaders need to reconsider the interests of the larger population we now know are not at risk. The single-minded focus on health security while ignoring economic reality is not sustainable. It is discouraging and at times reprehensible when writers and those in the press vilify and attempt to censor anyone who wishes to engage in a discussion to find the appropriate balance between physical and economic safety. To characterize those advancing strategies to reopen the economy as devaluing life is nothing more than avoiding debate on the issue.
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