Thinking about Florida’s much-criticized spring break shenanigans, at RealClearPolitics Sean Trende crunches some numbers and arrives at the tentative conclusion that Florida’s governor might have made the right decision. He concludes like this:
To be clear, I support most of the social distancing that has been imposed (I think the jury is still out on school closures). I don’t think the cure is worse the disease right now. Analogies to the flu are too flippant; left unchecked this virus seems certain to kill off at least one order of magnitude more people than seasonal flu. At the same time, the social distancing seems to have stopped a pretty nasty flu outbreak dead in its tracks. We could do this every winter and save tens of thousands of lives annually; over the course of my lifetime the failure to do this every winter probably will kill more Americans than unchecked COVID-19 spread would. We don’t do that, of course, but to be clear: We don’t do it because the social and economic costs of doing so would be too great.
There’s a certain beauty and moral rightness in saying that every life counts, and that one life lost to this virus is one life too many. In reality, almost every one of us at some point solves the cold equations against life. There is more than ample room to conclude that DeSantis did it wrong here, but we should be honest with ourselves that we all have our limits as to what we will tolerate, and be willing to consider arguments to the contrary if things don’t change for the worse there.
I’ve recently heard some people suggest, mildly, that we will need to keep the economy closed down for 18 months or more, apparently not understanding that would result in a global collapse that most living human beings probably would not survive while the remnants roasted the less fortunate over fires for food.
Our political leaders in particular need to adjust themselves to the realization that we cannot “shelter in place” for a year or more. Even raising the possibility of indefinitely long shutdowns is irresponsible. I don’t think we can do it for six months. For one thing at some point non-compliance will just make the whole thing moot.