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Is the Treatment Worse than the Disease?

Updated: Jun 12, 2020

This is becoming a popular phrase in the media and amongst circles of friends and families. With growing concern for the strain on educational systems, the economy and civil liberties, the American people who initially responded very well to social distancing guidance, are starting to grow weary. Major life events like graduations and weddings are getting cancelled or put on hold. The Dow has backtracked on over 3 years of stock market gains. According to Casey Francis, Digital Community Manager with the non-profit Feeding America, food banks distributed 379 million meals in the month of March alone. Nearly 40% of these food recipients have been new to food banks. The American people are nervous, and with the mystery of what’s next, many are starting to feel like they would rather take their chances of getting sick than to continue living this way if we could just go back to business as usual. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. But luckily, it’s also not that simple.

The current mainstream thought process is two-sided. Either we social distance with the goal of saving lives, or we return to normalcy with the goal of saving paychecks. As we face the mysterious future ahead, and we compare our resources to other peer countries, I encourage us as a community to not accept these limited choices. People are scared, and with plenty of good reasons. But we must make decisions that we can justify to our most vulnerable populations and we must hold our elected officials to a higher standard in bringing creative solutions to the general public. With the amount of technical expertise and resources of our country, we should not have to choose between dying of pandemic virus and dying of starvation. There is a way out of this, and as COVID-19 becomes the second-leading cause of death in the US, we need to really scrutinize our approach in the direction of decisions that states like Georgia, Oklahoma and Alaska have made.

In this multi-part series, we’ll review some of the most popular arguments for a rapid removal of lockdown policies and easing of social distancing practices. We’ll talk about what insights the past has to offer, what insights experts and data of the present have to offer, and what will be needed to safely get us to the future. It has become a fascinating phenomenon to witness first-hand how much the degree of support for protective measures of public safety varies with political affiliation. What I hope to share is a nonpartisan perspective on a transition away from lockdown that allows people from all backgrounds to develop an informed opinion and perspective on moving forward.

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