I do not know the answer to the question: What can we do to slow the the spread of an airborne disease such as COVID 19. What I do know is that approaches with some history have been massively abused. Often with ‘noble’ intentions but to the detriment of the populace.
- Quarantine – traditionally the people who have the disease. In this case the people most obviously at risk, the elderly. Where this has been implemented it seems to help, BUT the negative impact on the individuals and their family are significant. In the end will this be shown to have been a disaster because of the isolation killing tens of thousands by suicide and drug overdose? Also abuse of this by sending infected into ‘isolation’ wards that weren’t sufficiently isolated killed thousands.
- The ultimate abuse of quarantine is the tyrannical lock downs, has damaged the economy to the detriment of everyone and in all likelihood killed tens of thousands if not more through overdose, suicide and delay of medical attention to lethal but treatable medical problems.
- Social Distancing – a modern form of soft quarantine (needs very specific circumstances to mean much.) Where companies implemented for critical staff it appears reasonable, its bland plastering on ever floor in every stored seems silly.
- Masks – traditional but misunderstood: It stops you from spreading vastly more than catching. Along with social distancing it is reasonable for limiting spread if followed well enough.
- Crowds indoors – known bad BUT: space and air handling is very important, driving many gatherings into homes was a stupidly obvious result of stopping certain types of events.
- Crowds outdoors – People need to get out and sunlight and exercise, good feelings are seriously helpful. And the chances of spreading especially in the day is near nil. Health enhancements massively outweigh risks for most. Of course then supporting rioting at night made the rules look political and stupid.
- Restaurants/bars – Obvious targets of concern. But crowd limitations and rules about cleaning and masking mitigate issues. The ability to get out and mingle in reasonably controlled environment along with the support of the economy outweigh risks.
At the start of all this if the elite (gov’t, medical, media) had acted with open clarity about what was known and unknown. There might have been a chance to get through the last nine months without the breakdown we are seeing.
Politics, especially ‘orange man bad’ was a starting point for the majority of the elite, spin, narcissism and gotcha were key issues especially in what was seen as an existential election year. Lies, more lies and counter lies to control of information, opinion and public activity spun out so that the general populace at this point pretty much ignores whatever is said other than as a sort of televised comedy/drama.
The main political conflict in recent years is between experts or elites and non‐experts. For lack of a better word, the non‐experts are called populists. Their complaints have been specific: Elites and experts are arrogant, they have different values, they condescend in annoying ways, they ignore the sometimes legitimate concerns of populists, among others. Experts say that they should be listened to because they’re more knowledgeable. We see it in debates on every issue from climate change to trade, immigration, and everything in between.CATO Institute: Against the Noble Lie – COVID 19s Edition (March of 2020)
Noble intention = Elite pretension