COVID-19 and Freedom of Choice

Woman riding a Harley-Davidson
Freedom means different things to different people, but the freedom to choose is a basic American right.

Reported COVID-19 cases in the U.S. rose 30,300 in the past 24 hours to 1,075,600, an increase of 2.9 percent.   Deaths increase 2,164 to 63,109, an increase of 3.6 percent and yet another day in which the death toll tops 2000. 

Globally, cases were up only 56,000, meaning that there is a data lag or the U.S. now represents more than half the new cases cropping up daily.  Since the Johns Hopkins page is having trouble loading, I’m willing to attribute this to a data error and wait 24 hours to see how the number look.  But for the record, what we’re seeing on the Johns Hopkins page is 3.278 million cases and 234,020 deaths.

April Was a Critical Month

But the real news is how the last 30 days saw the coronavirus explode onto the scene.  Our headline a month ago read “The Dark Days of COVID 19 are Just Beginning.” 

Here are a few comparisons from April 1 and May 1:

April 1 vs May 1 Coronavirus Data
A comparison of coronavirus data between April 1 and May 1, 2020

It’s hard to remember that cases were growing 15 percent overnight just a month ago, or even at 24 percent in March.  The curve was definitely flattened and with a very few exceptions in New York City, hospitals were not overwhelmed.  But flattening the curve is control, not cure.

The Reopening Conundrum

It may be easy to look at the numbers above and declare victory because we have slowed the coronavirus.  But are an average of 30,000 cases and 2,000 deaths every day a rate we are willing to sustain?  COVID-19 has killed more American than the war in Vietnam.  Are we looking to reach WWI levels?  Are we comfortable looking at more than 100,000 deaths by June 1? 

On the other hand, how many small businesses will die and the jobs they provide disappear if they don’t reopen in the next 30 days?  How many lives will be ruined the shut down and stay home orders?  How many more cases of abuse, depression and suicide will be cased by our third month of being forced to stay home?  And for that matter, how much worse damage will the coronavirus recession cause for months and years ahead?

I have always objected to the nanny state protecting people from themselves.  People that want to ride a motorcycle without a helmet or drive a car without a seat belt should have the freedom to make that choice for themselves.  Liberty includes the right to make a decision that ultimately kills you, whether it’s smoking a pack of cigarettes a day, going sky diving, or heading into a restaurant during a pandemic. 

Personal Choice

Let’s reopen the country and allow people to make a choice.  Don’t force them to go back to work, get haircuts, eat in restaurants, or fly on airplanes, but allow them to if they choose to do so.  Identify and quarantine the sick, lock down those few cities or counties where the virus appears to be rapidly spreading, protect the elderly, allow those with serious health issues to stay home and avoid contamination, but let the healthy out of their homes.

Surveys have already shown that a good number of people are going to stay home even when the laws are relaxed. If they’re over 50 or 60, that may well be a smart choice.  See, there’s that word again: Choice.

Let us exercise our freedom of choice.

COVID-19 and Freedom of Choice