Should There Be Another Lockdown?

As COVID-19 continues to spread throughout the United States, having another lockdown has been discussed. Is it a good idea?

The argument for

Other countries that are experiencing a second wave of corona virus cases are instituting a second lockdown. The UK, for instance, has instituted a tiered system to try and contain further spread of the disease.

Closing non-essential businesses and instituting stay-at-home orders should slow the spread of the virus. Some communities are asking for help as  the number of new infections is at an all-time high.

The argument against

However, there are significant arguments against extreme measures like a lockdown. Local and national economies are already hurting from earlier efforts to contain the virus. Many businesses have already closed for good, and a record number of people have requested unemployment. Another lockdown would exacerbate economic problems, for both employers and employees.

A stay-at-home order also poses additional risks. Mental health difficulties are surging as well, and many people already struggling with loneliness and depression would face greater struggles. People in abusive situations at home would feel even more at risk as well.

It is not clear that a lockdown is even necessary. After being able to learn about the spread of the virus, relatively simple steps like mask wearing and physical distancing can have a large impact. We now know that the virus is spread primarily through droplets in the breath of those infected. Frequent hand-washing also prevents spread.

Moreover, more is known about treatment. The fatality rate of this second surge in cases is leading to a much lower number of deaths than the early infections in the spring. Increased testing and contact tracing have also been implemented in many communities.

However …

… the number of new cases is rising, including in many communities previously spared. Mandatory mask laws are being enacted in some states. A stay-at-home order — even for a few weeks — might disrupt the spread in many of our communities.

More than 230,000 people are dead, with cases and deaths continuing to rise. It seems something needs to be done.

Should there be another lockdown?

Related questions: COVID-19? Mask or no mask? How do you evaluate risk? What advice would you give your pre-lockdown self? Do you know anyone with COVID-19?

1 thought on “Should There Be Another Lockdown?”

  1. I’m really torn by this question. Can we enter an imaginary situation where more people — including more federal, state, and local elected leaders — were treating COVID-19 as the crisis it is? If so, and the number of cases were rising as well as the number of people experiencing serious side effects (e.g. permanently damaged lungs, muscle pain, fatigue, hallucinations), and a significant number of deaths were still happening, I’d say a national lockdown would be right decision.

    But because:

    – the Trump administration is showing no federal leadership on the pandemic;
    – bucking public health advice seems to be the modus operandi of so many Trump supporters;
    – people believing in a number of ideological perspectives are not treating the pandemic seriously enough;
    – many people are wearing masks incorrectly;
    – so many people are lax at social distancing;
    – people are inappropriately visiting friends and family whom they consider “safe” to be around;

    I don’t think America is ready for a lockdown. Too many people, I believe, wouldn’t heed the order(s).

    I don’t know how to convince those who will not listen, but to get those with open minds and discipline, I do have some suggestions, after which a lockdown should be ordered if it doesn’t adequately address the problem. The following suggestions should be paid for by the federal government … or philanthropic organizations if the current administration refused to do so. We need a major public health campaign:

    – A campaign using social media, streaming services, television, and radio, detailing what the virus is and why where we are right now is such a dangerous place to be should begin immediately. Frequently played and printed PSAs should augment 30-minute to hour-long programming.
    – Public health leaders/experts should be given regular space in local and national newspapers to share their coordinated assessments and advice.
    – Supportive local leaders and celebrities should be recruited to support the effort in whatever ways public relations experts deem helpful.
    – Extensive polling should be conducted to see if the public health messaging is working.

    All that noted, I truly think that a national lockdown is really the way to go. But it can’t be like the previous lockdown which crippled the economy and didn’t stop a significant number of gatherings that were actually responsible for the spread of the virus:

    – The federal government needs to adequately pay those unable to work (i.e. livable wages). This, for the most part, is not a “needs-based” subsidy; it goes to whomever cannot work, including those who are unemployed, underemployed, have stopped looking for work because no jobs exist, as well as for people using other public subsidies. (However, subsidies should not be given to the ultra-rich.)
    – Small- to medium-sized companies need to be compensated for business lost.
    – State and local governments need to be made whole based on tax revenue lost during the lockdown.

    And even with this suggestion, I have my doubts. I doubt the current federal administration will do anything. Plus, I think that in the next two months, things are going to get really bad. Therefore, it’s going to come down to individuals witnessing loved ones suffer and/or die for enough people to listen to and believe what science is telling us we must do.

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