Strict lockdowns are the best (if not the only) way to beat Covid-19. Especially if done early.
The earlier it is done, and the more severe the lockdown, the easier it is on people. I know this sounds counterintuitive, but it is just simple math, the math of exponential growth.
China proved this by instituting severe lockdowns, which reduced Covid-19 so much that they can now have large events without concern of outbreaks. Ironically, this means that China now has more personal freedom than the US. You may argue that China is a dictatorship, and a strict lockdown would be difficult to do in a western-style democracy. But you would be wrong.
The new evidence is that Australia — certainly as much of a model of rugged individualism as any country in the world — has beaten its second wave of the coronavirus, and is now on a path toward returning to normal life again. They did this by instituting a severe lockdown. Yes, people there complained, but it worked and the politician who instituted the lockdown is now very popular. The same thing is happening in New Zealand. While here in the US, our case numbers and deaths are some of the worst in the world, and are still continuing to increase.
This is not a fluke. The simple math is that in order to reduce exponential growth of Covid-19, you have to reduce transmission (called R0) below 1. If you can do this, then cases and deaths go down. If you don’t, they go up, exponentially. It really is that simple. And the earlier you institute a strict lockdown, the shorter it has to last to be effective.
But no, we in the US wait until Covid-19 is out of control, our hospitals are overloaded, and people lose their jobs (and their healthcare), before we institute even half-assed measures that too many people then ignore (claiming that the measures impinge on their freedom). As a result, we suffer almost all the problems and inconvenience of a lockdown, but we don’t actually get the benefits.
Instead, our response to the pandemic is a truly bad joke. Just last week, Attorney General William Barr said a nationwide shutdown would be the “greatest intrusion on civil liberties” in history “other than slavery.” He should be impeached. And our president continues to hold in-person rallies that turn into super-spreader events, discourages the wearing of masks, and encourages in-person voting. He’s already been impeached, but the Republican Senate refused to convict him.
There is a cure for that. All I will say is that you should vote like your life depends on it, because for many of us, this is literally true.