Incompetence, waffling, moving the goalposts, disregarding unintended consequences, and being political have hurt Americans' confidence in their public health institutions.
The risk to students of reopening schools is quite small. For instance, more young adults aged 15-24 will drown than die from coronavirus. The challenge for re-opening schools is the risk posed to teachers, staff, and students' families.
We must dismantle the perfect storm of incivility, anti-intellectualism, and tribalism -- worsened by the sewer pipe of social media -- that has gripped our country. In its place, we must foster a culture of intellectualism, skepticism, and empathy. But that lofty goal seems unreachable in the current milieu.
Strict lockdowns might work in some countries, but they aren't going to work everywhere. Americans, in particular, reject such restrictions on liberty, which is why a strict lockdown is sort of like abstinence-only sex education.
Are those who claim that life will never go back to normal after the coronavirus, correct? Are we condemned to live in a Brave New World, governed by social distancing and disinfection protocols, in which perfect hygiene is the greatest good?
We tend to overlook how natural disasters like the coronavirus pandemic shape human behavior. Maybe that should change.
The COVID-19 lockdown is responsible for both the loss of economic activity and human lives. Two independent groups of researchers concluded that the lockdown may be costing more lives than it saves.
American culture, specifically our disdainful attitude toward expertise and leadership, is not conducive to making improvements to public health policy. Don't expect many changes in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Somewhere along the way, our achievable goal of "flattening the curve" for COVID-19 has mutated into "finding a cure," which is perhaps an impossible one. Public health and economic policy must be based on reality, not starry-eyed wish-making. Otherwise, people's lives and livelihoods are in grave danger.
Americans have developed a social pathology in which we pin our collective hope and hatred on a single person, the President of the United States. This began long before Donald Trump took office, but the coronavirus pandemic has greatly worsened the problem.
How would we respond differently if another outbreak happened?
Much remains unknown about the coronavirus. A new paper published in The Lancet estimates that roughly 60% of the population needs to be immune to COVID-19 to achieve herd immunity.