COVID-19 Lockdowns — Are We Doing It Right?

If we don’t have lockdowns, what can we do to stop people from contracting and spreading COVID?

Are lockdowns helpful?

Lockdowns have been correlated with decreased case fatality rate.

Strict lockdown strategies together with a wide diagnostic PCR testing of the population were correlated with a relevant decline of the case fatality rate in different Countries.

Therefore, lockdowns might offer greater potential protection to at-risk populations, such as older people.

Lockdowns decrease deaths of COVID. They’re helpful.

How Helpful are Lockdowns?

It’s not entirely certain how helpful each city’s lockdown is in preventing COVID deaths. We can, however, look at who is the most at-risk from such deaths.

A study published in European Journal of Epidemiology, July 2020, Assessing the Age Specificity of Infection Fatality Rates for COVID-19: Systematic Review, Meta-Analysis, and Public Policy Implications, found:

IFR is very low for children and younger adults (e.g., 0.002% at age 10 and 0.01% at age 25) but increases progressively to 0.4% at age 55, 1.4% at age 65, 4.6% at age 75, and 15% at age 85.

Are lockdowns hurtful?

The current lockdowns are having a substantial impact on society. They impact mental health, social health, and the economy.

Regarding the economy, GDP is down and we are in a recession. According to the Brookings Institute, “if job growth continues to slow, it will take years to bring the economy back to its level of employment before the COVID recession”.
Payroll Employment

At the same time, government spending is up. This seems to lead to increased and perhaps unmanageable debt. (See: Coronavirus Slump Continues For GDP Growth).

Regarding personal health and well being, depression, substance abuse, and suicidal ideation have increased as a consequent of COVID lockdowns.

Medical News Today stated:

Before the pandemic, 8.5% of U.S. adults reported being depressed. That number has risen to 27.8% as the country struggles with COVID-19.

See also:

Risk of Death vs Freedom

If the fatality rate increases progressively from 0.002% at age 10 to 0.4% by age 55, to what degree can these people be allowed to take a measured risk? What about people outside of that age range? Whose interactions must be prevented? Whose may be allowed? How can we pragmatically minimize harm, both from infection and from loss of freedom and economic prosperity? How well do the current lockdowns meet those objectives when they only consider a single factor model of minimizing harm from the affects of COVID infection?

In the US, the number of reported deaths related to COVID-19 is 348,000. In contrast, 150,000 people die of lung cancer every year but smoking is legal. 650,000 die of heart disease, yet red meat and high sugar diets are legal. For smoking, red meat, and sugar, we value the right of personal choice and freedom. Yet when it comes to COVID-19, personal freedom is not considered. Personal freedom matters, too.

One downside to relaxing restrictions is that low-risk individuals might put higher risk individuals at unknown greater risk. Mitigating that risk is important.

Relaxing restrictions doesn’t alleviate the mental health impact to at-risk persons who must remain restricted, whether by choice or by order, and who cannot enjoy such freedoms.


Preamble to Free Thought

What follows is a lockdown proposal that considers personal freedom, mental health, and economic prosperity. It is more nuanced than a simple yes/no regarding lockdowns.

Open Discussion

The decision to implement lockdowns is already done. I believe that nuanced rational discussion can improve the current situation.

Censorship of the discussion on Facebook, Twitter, and others has impacted free thought and hindered progressive discussion for better solutions.

Furthermore, at a time when we are isolated; at a time when we most need human connection and personal expression, such censorship is absolutely sickening. Censorship is a threat to personal liberty and happiness. Censoring someone could mean the difference between that person expressing their negative feelings online to others versus having more negative ideas and actions.

Likewise, fact check warnings overlaid atop messages on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media delegitimize and stigmatize unapproved ideas. This impacts their consideration and discussion.

That such discussion is cowed on social media platforms is censorious and unacceptable. It should not even need to be said that censorship is bad, as it is antithetical to freedom and progress of the western ideal we have fought so hard against in wars past (See also Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Such censorship deserves no respect and should not be tolerated.

Ideas that require censorship to be maintained do not stand on their own and deserve no respect.

So… without further ado, here is my proposal draft:


Allow low-risk people to work, dine, socialize, etc.

Low-risk people could help us achieve herd immunity faster. The economy might recover.

Allowing low-risk people to work, dine, and socialize would not be a blanket edict for all.

If the fatality rate increases progressively from 0.002% at age 10 to 0.4% by age 55, the cost of risk of infection is not necessarily offset by the cost of the current blanket one-size-fits-all lockdowns. Individuals can be allowed to choose to go to work and businesses allowed to operate.

People who are considered generally low-risk would still be allowed to work from home, if possible. Employers should be required to accommodate for such options wherever possible.

Likewise, people considered higher risk would be allowed to work, provided they were already given an option to work from home and had signed under full voluntary consent to opt-out of it with no pressure to do so.

The government could encourage people to socialize safely, outside, by maintaining and promoting existing outdoor parks and recreation and helping businesses facilitate outdoor dining opportunities. This would improve mental health and well-being, which could translate to stronger community, less drug abuse, less domestic violence, less suicidal ideation. It would cost government very little to do this. It could also benefit some businesses who provide goods and services outdoors.

Take a strong stand to end censorship so that these things can be discussed unmoderated, in public.

That’s my proposal. What are your thoughts?

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