Let me cut straight to the chase: New Jersey MUST begin re-opening incrementally. Not in a month, not next week, today.
The coronavirus has done unbelievable damage; worldwide, it has killed hundreds of thousands and sickened millions, And it has completely destroyed economies across the world. In no way should this be ignored, in no way should anyone make light of that. And I’m not.
But a completely different strategy is needed in the fight against Covid-19. The US economy has all but fallen off a cliff; some estimates have national unemployment hitting 20% in the next month. People are losing their minds: in New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that reports of domestic violence were up 15% in March, and then DOUBLED in April to 30%. Now, if there were an Ebola-like (50% death rate across all age groups) pandemic going on, forcing people to remain at home would make sense. But that’s not even remotely the case.
As we continue gathering data on the coronavirus, it begins to look more and more like a very bad flu season: extremely dangerous for elderly people, not so much for younger people. Antibody studies conducted in New York and California suggest that the death rate from coronavirus is well under 1%, far milder than the 2%-4% we hear about in the media. The state of Virginia recently released statistics proving this: in the state, 70% of confirmed cases are people under 60, with a fatality rate of 0.5%, meaning that deaths are almost always in older people or those with preexisting conditions. When taking antibody studies into account, the real fatality rate for those under 60 is likely to be under 0.02%. This is exactly how every flu season turns out; deadly for the elderly and sick, not a big deal for almost everyone else.
So why is the entire economy shut down? If we want to keep our older citizens and immunocompromised individuals safe, as I do, then they should be the ones to be quarantined while younger and healthy people can go about their business, keeping the economy humming and allowing them to keep food on the table. Older and immunocompromised individuals can have funds put into their bank accounts to help them get through this pandemic. It’s possible to get through this difficult time by helping those at high risk of getting seriously ill without killing everyone’s livelihoods in the process. And why we aren’t doing that is inexplicable and will likely go down as one of the greatest blunders in American economic history.
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