Did COVID lockdowns save lives? At what cost and to whom? The answer to both is that it depends. Let’s consider some of the issues that make up “it depends.”
President Eisenhower worried that we were creating a scientific/technologic elite that controls the narrative and stifles heterodoxy. But the digital age and the democratization of knowledge threaten the scientific "priesthood" – much in the way the printing press threatened the controlling interest of an earlier time. The priesthood must learn to adapt to a world where it no longer has a monopoly on specialized knowledge.
As a result of the latest Presidential election, state legislatures are garnering a great deal of publicity about a host of new laws surrounding voter registration. More quietly, several states, in a reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic, are also seeking to restrain the activities of our public health officials.
There are numerous opinions about the best way to handle (or perhaps end) the COVID pandemic. They range from more strict lockdowns, to "let's open as quickly as possible" coupled with the hope to keep it in check. A pandemic expert picks the first way. It's very unpopular. Is it even a realistic choice?
On Nov. 25, 2020, the Supreme Court decided Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn v. Andrew Cuomo  in a 5-4 ruling. That decision struck down Gov. Cuomo's executive order limiting to ten the number of individuals who could gather in places of worship in hard-hit “red zones.” As COVID's US toll continues to increase and vaccination efforts fumble, we can expect frustrated governors and public health officials to seek to enforce a broader panoply of lockdown orders. The Diocese case teaches a few lessons to assure new orders don’t trespass on the new-found Religious devotion of the Supreme Court.
The Pew Research Center released a survey of 12,648 Americans on their current views on COVID-19. The headline was the increasing interest in vaccinations, up now to 60% of those surveyed, since Pfizer and Moderna's announcements. But the headline left a lot of great information "below the fold," if mentioned at all. This special edition of Every Picture Tells A Story shares a few of the salient findings.
There's no doubt that COVID-19 infections are spiking. State and local governments are introducing a range of lockdown strategies. Super spread is real, but it varies from place to place. So how do we decide where to draw the line? Are our leaders making this up as they go? A new paper may help science lead the way.
Europe is in worse shape than the U.S. when it comes to new infections, at least for the time being. Without a change in strategy -- and hoping for a vaccine is not a strategy -- going back into lockdown is pointless, as a third (or fourth) wave will emerge when society reopens.
Of course, COVID-19 has been disruptive to our lives, both at home and at work. The effect across industry varies. For instance, the fortunes of Amazon and Jeff Bezos soar, while the deaths of mom and pop retail stores have accelerated.