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The United States Certainly Did Have Lockdowns

Here’s a letter to the New York Times:


David Wallace-Wells claims that, because lockdown measures in China, Peru, and some other countries were harsher and lasted longer than was the case in America, “the United States never had lockdowns. (Not like elsewhere in the world, at least.)” (“9 Pandemic Narratives We’re Getting Wrong,” Jan. 4).


Ordering businesses to close, shuttering schools, restricting travel, allowing only freakish carboard cutouts rather than actual fans to attend sporting events, and putting limits on the number of people who could gather together for holiday celebrations, weddings, and funerals – these restrictions, which were indeed imposed throughout much of U.S., locked Americans out of familiar social and economic engagements that are essential to leading productive and meaningful lives.

Mr. Wallace-Wells’s claim is as false as would be the claim that, because slavery in the Caribbean was arguably harsher than in the United States – and, in Brazil, lasted longer – the United States never had slavery. (Not like elsewhere in the world, at least.) Such a claim is simply absurd.

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