First we were told that it was necessary to impose “social distancing rules” and shut down the economy for a few weeks in order to prevent the healthcare system from being overwhelmed by a sudden influx of COVID-19 cases, predicted to possibly be in the millions. From a typical panicked news report on March 16:
Health officials take for granted that COVID-19 will continue to infect millions of people around the world over the coming weeks and months. However, as the outbreak in Italy shows, the rate at which a population becomes infected makes all the difference in whether there are enough hospital beds (and doctors, and resources) to treat the sick.
In epidemiology, the idea of slowing a virus’ spread so that fewer people need to seek treatment at any given time is known as “flattening the curve.” It explains why so many countries are implementing “social distancing” guidelines — including a “shelter in place” order that affects 6.7 million people in Northern California, even though COVID-19 outbreaks there might not yet seem severe.
Fortunately, the prediction that millions would become sick was so wrong it is now considered a joke. Moreover, it was quickly obvious that the healthcare system was not going to be overwhelmed.
So of course, we can now end these stringent social distancing rules and the lock downs, right?
Hah. Now we are being told that the new social rules and the government-imposed economic shut downs are necessary to stop the spread of the disease, to protect us from further infection, to make us all safe from coronavirus, forever. And if we do have to ease the lock downs at all, we have to do it as slowly as possible, and to change our behaviors forever. Masks must be worn, businesses can no longer serve as many at a time, and we must change and limit our freedoms, just because we might possibly save one life!