Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Former National Post & Toronto Star columnist, past vice president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. New posts: Mondays & Wednesdays.
Certain adamant coronavirus declarations look foolish now.
In the last 21 days, approximately 162,000 Americans have died. Of that number, 150 were killed by the Wuhan virus. If governments at all levels had done nothing, other than eliminating regulatory barriers to the deployment of already-existing medicines, would the virus have killed more Americans? Yes, that is what flu bugs do. Would it kill more than the 13,000 or so who have died from this year’s seasonal flu virus? Who knows? More than the estimated 80,000 who were killed by the flu in the U.S. just two years ago? I doubt it: world-wide, it has killed only a little more than one-tenth that number. [bold added; see March 20th data here]
The wisdom of various government responses to the coronavirus will be debated for many years. Hinderaker’s view that economic shutdowns carry their own, heavy price was fair enough. But he clearly had no idea what this virus was capable of.
If he were in charge, he’d have done nothing more than eliminate regulatory barriers. His big mistake was imagining that the 150-person US death toll during the first three weeks of March was a reliable guide to the future. It now exceeds 93,500.
Who knows, wrote Hinderaker 61 days ago, if the coronavirus will kill more than the 13,000 US flu victims. It has now claimed seven times that number.
Hinderaker doubted the virus would kill more than the “estimated 80,000 who were killed by the flu in the U.S. just two years ago.” Wrong again. (Those flu statistics are highly questionable, but that’s another story.)
61 days ago, Hinderaker dismissed and downplayed this virus. In his words, government-imposed lockdowns were an “insane overreaction” given that a mere 8,000 or so people had perished worldwide. Since he penned those words, global deaths have officially surpassed 325,000.
OFFICIAL/CONFIRMED CORONAVIRUS DEATHS
Between April 7th and May 7th, this virus claimed more than 2,000 American lives on each of 19 separate days (see the chart at the top of this post). That’s with sporting events, music concerts, cinemas, political rallies, and St. Patrick’s Day parades all shut down.
We will never know how many more infections, ICU admissions, long term disabilities, or funerals would have resulted had Hinderaker been the person making the decisions. What’s clear is that his analysis back in March wasn’t rooted in deep research or genuine understanding. It didn’t rest on a solid grasp of the history of infectious disease.
Hinderaker’s remarks were merely an expression of his own political worldview, his personal abhorrence of government interference in economic life. Which makes him no different from others who mistook their own worldview for reality.
Remember back in early March, when left-wing New York City officials were telling residents there was nothing to worry about? The mayor said the city was “fully prepared to respond” to the coronavirus. Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot insisted “appropriate measures” were being taken to prevent its spread, and that New Yorkers were “at low risk.”
“As we confront this emerging outbreak,” she continued, “we need to separate facts from fear, and guard against stigma and panic” (bold added).
More than 20,000 people have since perished in NYC from this virus. The suffering has been immense. To date, that jurisdiction is America’s most deadly hotspot. Might this be connected to the fact that, blinded by her leftist worldview, the city’s Health Commissioner thought anti-Asian stigma was the big issue?
Moral of this story: Ideological blind spots have deadly consequences. It’s hard work seeing the world as it really is.