Here’s a letter to USA Today:
Shame on you for running Mark Johnson’s wholly misleading report titled “The young die as well from COVID-19, even as many engage in denial” (Nov. 28).
No one denies that Covid kills some young people, but in context this number is tiny. Johnson’s own reported number of Covid deaths in America of people younger than 40 – 3,571 – is a mere 1.5 percent of all Covid deaths in this country, a reality that Johnson scandalously leaves unmentioned. Instead of writing about percentages or proportions (words that never appear in his essay) – instead of informing readers that more than 40 percent of all Covid deaths in the U.S. are of residents of nursing homes – instead of alerting readers to the fact that 97 percent of Covid deaths are of people 45 and older – Johnson sensationalizes the number of under-40 Covid deaths by observing that it “has now surpassed the total death toll from the 9/11 terrorist attacks.”
To see the irrelevance of this comparison, consider another: the number of Americans younger than 18 who are killed annually by injuries is nearly three-and-a-half times higher than is the number of Americans younger than 40 who’ve died of Covid – and, hence, multiple times higher than the number of 9/11 deaths. 9/11’s death toll is no watershed figure beyond which higher death tolls from other causes necessarily justify unprecedented concern and reaction.
By giving the false impression that Covid poses a grave danger to children and young adults, you recklessly fuel hysteria, out of which only can come ill-conceived policy responses.
Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA 22030