~ Where the Sun Will Never Set on Our liberty ~
Today, President Trump encouraged the country to come to a screeching halt for a couple of weeks to combat the spread of Wuhan virus. I have a lot of doubts that this will work–our neighbors to the north are still accepting flights from China–or can work. Wuhan virus is a part of our ecosystem. It, like influenza, will be something we just have to deal with until the end of time. The gamble is that this initial burst of the pandemic burns itself out, aided by increasing temperatures and humidity, before the economy craters. If we gamble wrong and Wuhan virus surges back after the informal lockdown periods cease, then all we’ve done in the long term is nothing. The flip side of the coin is that people who survive Wuhan…and here I’m talking about virtually everyone who gets it, are left with some degree of immunity but people who got through it by self-quarantine will be just as vulnerable 4 or 5 weeks or 4 or 5 months from now as they are today.
The other strategy available is to say f*** it, we can’t stamp this out, it’s going to be with us perpetually, lets let is run its course, try to isolate the highest risk citizens, and rely upon what is known as herd immunity for protection. Herd immunity is defined by the CDC as ““a situation in which a sufficient proportion of a population is immune to an infectious disease (through vaccination and/or prior illness) to make its spread from person to person unlikely.” That is what childhood vaccinations try to accomplish. If you can vaccinate 80% of the population, then the ability of a disease to spread approaches zero. That’s because most of the population can’t carry the disease and that protects the part of the population that cannot or will not vaccinate.
This latter strategy has been selected by the Netherlands.
In a rather historical speech, the first national address by a prime minister since the 1970s, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte addressed the country on live TV from The Hague.
The prime minister started his speech by giving his condolences to the families of the people who have died of Covid-19 and acknowledging the concerns of the Dutch people. “Tonight, my message is a difficult one. The coronavirus is here to stay. There is no quick escape out of this situation. A large part of the population will get infected by the virus.”
Three possible scenarios
In his speech, Rutte mentioned that there were three possible scenarios:
- Trying to get maximum control over the virus, a.k.a flattening the curve. This way, we will build herd immunity to protect the elderly and immunocompromised, and our health care system will not collapse.
- Let the virus spin out of control, something which we will have to avoid at all costs.
- A nationwide lockdown. This is an option many countries are choosing, but is not preferable according to the experts, as a lockdown would probably last for months if not a year.
The Dutch government has chosen to go with the first scenario, to limit the spread of the virus as much as possible. However, the prime minister also stated that there is always a possibility that extra measures will be taken if the experts deem it necessary.
Last week it seemed like the British government was also about to choose herd immunity but after a high profile article published to that imagined a death toll as high as 250,000, the government changed course.
No one knows how this will play out. Will the Dutch be considered prescient or buffoons? Will the aggregate death toll in the country go up? Or will deaths from Wuhan virus consist of elderly, sick, and immune compromised people who would have died of influenza or pneumonia or some other infection? What I do think we know is this. The self-quarantine/lockdown regime we’re trying is a very expensive band-aid. The disease is here to stay and the real challenge is not how we manage this outbreak but how we manage to live with it. With herd immunity, or with a widely available vaccine, it is manageable. What we don’t know, and won’t know for many months, is if a vaccine for Wuhan virus is even practicable. Will it be like measles or whooping cough? Or will it be moving target like influenza? Or will in be like AIDS and the common cold and be totally resistant to efforts to develop a vaccine? If it is the first situation, then we may have the luxury of snickering at the Dutch and their fatalism. If it is the latter scenario, we have spent months in panic and billions of dollars in lost productivity and next winter we’ll have to do what the Dutch did.
South Korea is also trying a different approach:
What’s the better for dealing with pandemic disease: martial-law quarantines imposed by the state according to geography, or keeping society open while trusting medical professionals, individuals, families, and communities to make intelligent decisions?
A month ago, such a question would have been purely hypothetical but the answer in the United States would have been settled. After all, this is a country of law, with a Bill of Rights, limits on state power, and an essential trust in freedom. Right?
How times change in a crisis. Mayors and governors around the country are imposing quarantines, not because they work but because they don’t want to be blamed for failing to act. So let’s consider that essential question: what works?
South Korea has seen a steady decrease in new coronavirus cases for the latter half of the last week. The country had the fourth most cases of coronavirus in the world. There were no geographic quarantines enforced by armed guards. Instead, the sole focus was on widespread testing and isolating the sick.
After averaging over 500 new cases per day back to the last week of February, between Friday and Sunday the daily totals numbered 438, 367, and 248 according to the Korea Center for Disease Control.
How is it that without deploying the military or imposing widespread, enforced quarantine, the spread of coronavirus in South Korea is apparently slowing?
Actually, there’s a better question: why should the U.S. copy China rather than South Korea?
The United States is deep in the throes of an election season at present, and so haughty invokings of the Constitution and Declaration of Independence are recurrent (if not always coherent). Of course, talk is generally cheap – and all the cheaper when coming from the mouths of politicians. It’s in times of crisis that the veracity of one’s commitment to liberty and human rights is laid bare. The difference between the U.S. and China is that China makes no pretense of reverence for liberty, nor for the inviolate elevation of individual rights.
South Korea is leveraging private property rights to thwart the spread of the virus, with building owners posting and enforcing “no mask, no entry” signs. (Just imagine how many Americans would react to being turned away or denied service from a favored destination at the sole discretion of the proprietor.)
Drive-through testing stations have been set up nationwide through which individuals, after a ten-minute test, are notified within a few hours if infected. A voluntary, self-diagnosis phone app was created in the early stages of the pandemic, and “living and treatment” centers set up in a “soft quarantine” spirit.
Mostly, though, South Koreans are acting based upon their experience with the H1N1 pandemic in 2009: they’re washing their hands frequently, making an effort not to touch their faces, wearing masks, and social distancing to the extent possible. The high level of personal technology access in South Korea makes the lattermost eminently practicable, given the ubiquity of video telecommunications and other such technology.
Contrast this with developments in the few days since Italy put its entire country under quarantine, active cases have risen from between 5,000 and 6,000 to over 8,500. Deaths from the coronavirus have risen in that same time period from 366 to 631 (all figures as of March 10th).
It is true that certain aspects of South Korea’s handling of the outbreak nevertheless infringes upon individual rights, in particular where privacy is concerned. Using camera surveillance and tracking the cell phone and banking activity of individuals likely inflicted with the coronavirus is grossly in violation of any marginally libertarian principles. But the prevailing point is that with a far softer touch – vastly more respectful of the individual citizen than anywhere else, including our own putative bastion of freedom – the South Korean government has brought about superior outcomes than the much heavier handed, authoritarian measures of China, Italy, the U.S., and virtually every other afflicted nation.
I think much is an overreaction, but that's just my opinion a few other s I know.
I do know that the deranged and demented democrats are not letting this go to waste. They are actively stirring the Hate Trump Pot to manipulate the citizens against him as they are blaming EVERYTHING on Trump. Why?...so that the tide of the vote will swing against him. I think some of these actions are designed to do just that and in spades!
Well GOD BLESS Trump. He has acted quickly by blocking China travelers, whereas Obama dragged his America hating feet in the Ebola crisis, doing too little to late but luckily it didn't pan out to be as bad as all thought. Trump ha stayed as far ahead of the situation as possible.
I think many, not all, of the back-booted lock-downs are creating a bigger and more deadly crisis...A HUGE Homeless population of hundreds of thousands of families, elderly and all walks of life due to hundreds of thousands out of work and not receiving paychecks.
But not to worry, the legislative Elites will ride out the storm and come out better than before. May they all go down a sewer drain to hell together!
I agree Justfolk. I also think it is an overreaction for something that generally affects a small demographic and has a very high survival rate. We've never shutdown the economy before, not even during times of war or past pandemics. The policy of "social distancing" is ultimately disruptive, damaging to the economy, and unsustainable long term. We can't afford to keep doing this every time the world catches a cold. The economic consequences of this will directly affect far more people than the virus ever will. But the die has been cast and there's not much we can do at this point but ride it out.
I have no idea how this will affect the election. Before all this I would have said that Trump is unbeatable, now I don't know. The game has changed, and we are in uncharted territory now. I think it largely depends how quickly we can pick up the pieces and recover. Otherwise, the guy at the top usually gets the blame, right or wrong. I also agree that the Dems and the media are milking this for everything it's worth. A lot of the hype and hysteria is because of them, and they have no regard how it will affect everyday Americans.
To Demonic Democrat regime I will give no allegiance.
Would rather renounce citizenship and live elsewhere than in their vision of a Fascist government and society! TRUMP MUST WIN or this nation is DEAD and LOST!
Hi Justfolk! The media is driving the mass hysteria, they hope it will permanently damage Trump. We shall see. If anyone can make hay out of bad situation, it’s our President.
Yes and I hope God will see that he remains our President and the House and Senate democrats decline to single digit percentages A democrat ruled government and country will be the Enemy of We The People.