A year after the virus hit the U.S., Mr. Cuomo’s luster has faded, and Mr. DeSantis can claim vindication. The Sunshine State appears to have weathered the pandemic better than others like New York and California, which stayed locked down harder and longer.
Mortality data bear out this conclusion. The Covid death risk increases enormously with each decade of age. More than 80% of Covid deaths in the U.S. have occurred among seniors over 65. They make up a larger share of Florida’s population than any other state except Maine. Based on demographics, Florida’s per-capita Covid death rate would be expected to be one of the highest in the country.
Nope. Florida’s death rate is in the middle of the pack and only slightly higher than in California, which has a much younger population. Florida’s death rate among seniors is about 20% lower than California’s and 50% lower than New York’s, based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.
Yonoson Rosenblum reminds us that science can (and should) inform our choices, but it does not (and cannot) supply correct answers for how we should choose. Failure to grasp this truth leads to tyranny – including Covid tyranny. Two slices:
The mindset of “eradication of disease” often causes us to charge ahead, oblivious to the attendant consequences. Prolonged lockdowns are one example. Supporters of indefinite lockdowns, almost all employed and working from home, acknowledge the “inconvenience.” A bit of an understatement for the destruction of 60 percent of small businesses and the employment that went with them. Or for 50 percent of chemo sessions missed; 40 percent of treatable strokes undiagnosed; cancer screenings put off; the loss of an entire school year in many cases; skyrocketing rates of alcoholism, drug overdoses, abuse; and the doubling of youth suicides.
WE LIVE in a science-driven society, and all educated people profess to “believe” in science. The most reassuring four words in English are, “Science says, ‘Do this.’ ” But what happens when scientists are contradicting themselves or other scientists? Since the beginning of the pandemic, WHO first told us the fatality rate was 3.4 percent, which turned out to be 0.4 percent. It advised against shutting off air travel from Wuhan, even as China had done so internally. It proclaimed masks to be pointless, even as it was contradicting itself by saying that they must be saved for emergency medical personnel. It strongly advocated for lockdowns, until changing course, upon recognizing that they might well lead to a doubling of world poverty and child malnutrition.
At the outset of the pandemic, Governor Andrew Cuomo encouraged New Yorkers to go on mingling without panic because “we have the best health care system in the world.” Five days later, he announced the first lockdown.
When “science says” is so rapidly fluctuating, our core identity as people of science is threatened. And we feel that we have reverted to the situation of our distant ancestors at the mercy of nature. Unable to live with ambiguity, we act in ways that are antithetical to science itself, including trying to shut down dissident voices. Google and Google-owned YouTube removed from the platforms voices questioning whether lockdowns were the best long-term strategy, on the grounds that they contradicted the WHO, which, as we have seen, is hardly the definitive word on our state of knowledge.
When Stanford’s John Ioannidis, one of the 100 most cited scientists in the world, published preliminary studies undermining WHO’s claimed fatality rate, his research was not merely critiqued; he was greeted with intense anger, and he was morally vilified for betraying “everything you stood for.”
Starting around the 16-minute and 30-second mark, the Ricochet Podcast talks with Laurence Fox, the actor who’s now running, in opposition to lockdowns, to be Mayor of London. And around the 38-minute and 30-second mark, the show is joined by Jay Bhattacharya. (Dr. Bhattacharya declares that “A vaccine passport is also immoral.” Hear, hear!)