Meanwhile, the pants-shitting over COVID-19 continues, all out of proportion; The New Criterion‘s Heather Mac Donald tells us why. Excerpt:
The number of cases in most afflicted countries is paltry. As of today, 127 countries had reported some cases, but forty-eight of those countries had fewer than ten cases, according to Worldometer. At this point, more people have recovered from the virus than are still sick. But the damage to people’s livelihoods through the resulting economic contraction is real and widespread. Its health consequences will be more severe than those of the coronavirus, as Steve Malanga shows in City Journal. The people who can least afford to lose jobs will be the hardest hit by the assault on tourism. Small entrepreneurs, whether in manufacturing or the service sector, will struggle to stay afloat. Such unjustified, unpredicted economic havoc undermines government legitimacy.
President Trump has been criticized for not being apocalyptic enough in his press conferences. In fact, he should be even more skeptical of the panic than he has been. He should relentlessly put the coronavirus risk into context with opioid deaths, homicide deaths—about sixteen thousand a year in the United States—flu deaths, and traffic deaths. One might have thought New York governor Andrew Cuomo a voice of reason when, a few days ago, he tried to tamp down the hysteria in a press conference, saying: “This is not Ebola, this is not sars, this is not some science fiction movie come to life. The hysteria here is way out of line with the actuality and the facts.” And yet since then he called a state of emergency in New York, and he and Mayor Bill de Blasio have all but shut down the New York City economy. They, like most all U.S. politicians nowadays, have shown an overwhelming impulse to be irrationally risk-averse.
Rather than indiscriminately shutting down public events and travel, we should target prevention where it is most needed: in nursing homes and hospitals.
And now we see why toilet paper and bottle water have been flying off the shelves.
There really has been very little discussion of the actual, comparative scope of the coronavirus issue. For one thing, the very use of the term “coronavirus” seems new and scary to people not familiar with viruses; some 10-15% of the upper RI issues we call “the common cold” are caused by coronaviruses. It is, after all, a type of virus, not a specific virus; the COVID-19 is just one member of that family.
The primary message from all levels of government should simply be “observe the same precautions you observe every cold and flu season. This, too, shall pass.”
But no. It’s all to panic time.