Andrew Guenther is wrong on two levels in his letter to the editor last week. First, calling Bob Hall “unwell” is a below-the-belt personal attack unworthy of someone who wants to serve on the city council. This remark should have been edited out, and it reflects very badly on the a Herald-Times that it was published.
As far as whether Hall understands public health policy, Sweden did not lock down but sought to protect vulnerable populations while allowing younger and healthy people to stay at work. There are a number of very well educated people on both sides of the lockdown debate, who have studied the virus as well as the human impact of shutting down the global economy. Formulating policy to deal with the spread of a new virus is by no means an easy answer, and no one should pretend otherwise.
There are costs to this shutdown, and that cost is measured in lives lost as well as dollars. The United Nations estimated over 100 million people are on the edge of starvation, especially in poor nations. A massive economic downturn could be catastrophic for those people. Could we have more deaths by starvation than deaths by COVID-19? Then there are the deaths of despair brought on by economic destitution and isolation – deaths from alcoholism, addiction and suicide.
For me personally, I believe temporary lockdowns were wise. In the long term, the lockdowns are unsustainable and everyone knows it. It is impossible to stop the spread of the virus. The goal of the lockdowns was always to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus to prevent the medical system from being overwhelmed. We have done that and it is time to start relaxing the restrictions, to mitigate both severe economic damage and the deaths this policy inevitably brings with it.