To the editor:

A recent letter to the editor argues that the government’s response to COVID-19, not the pandemic itself, caused the “economic catastrophe” we are now experiencing. We all have our experiences with government overreach, but is this truly a case in point?

The author cites a single hard fact to support his argument: Seasonal flu has killed more people, as of the time of his writing, than COVID-19. He does acknowledge that COVID-19 did move into the lead by the time he submitted his letter. In understanding what those numbers mean, we should remember that the seasonal flu has been active since last September and COVID-19 has been active for the last six weeks. It is now killing between 2,000 and 3,000 Americans a day.

We know from the CDC, the scientific community, and from the president’s March presentation on the pandemic what the cost in lives would have been had our federal, state and community governments done nothing, as the author apparently recommends.

America’s loss of life would have run between 1,000,000 and 2,200,000 million people. The author speaks passionately about the economic costs of the governments’ reactions to the pandemic. What would the economic costs have been of a full-blown contagion taking one to two million American lives?

Other facts seem relevant to the author’s argument. Epidemiologists with the CDC recently reported that research shows that 90% of those Americans who have passed would have been saved had our government acted two weeks earlier than it did, as was the case with countries like Germany and South Korea. As the number of deaths continues to increase, we need to understand that more lives could have been saved than the lives of all of the soldiers lost in the Vietnam War if our governments had acted when our scientists first recommended action.

The economic challenges we have faced and will continue to face are daunting, but let’s not devalue life in the search for explanations and solutions. Remember our Declaration of Independence underscores our “unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

(s) hap ridgway


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