Conrad Black: fear of COVID-19 is exaggerated, it’s time to revive the economy

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It is possible to become demoralized by the enthusiasm that an inordinate number of Canadians seem to have to continue shutting down the coronavirus. The generally capable mayor of Toronto, my friend of many years, John Tory, who is generally a sensible man, is now criticized even by elements of the soft left of the media for trying to prevent the public from crowding in High Park and other public places. to enjoy the view and the aroma of cherry blossoms, a much awaited spring rite. It’s starting to look like the 17th century Dutch tulip madness, where individual tulip flowering plants, which had only been developed recently, could sell for the current equivalent of over $ 50,000, and we are discussing the sober and sober Dutch, not of a nationality more used to taking leave of its collective senses.

Canada recorded 4,404 deaths from coronavirus Thursday evening; about 80% of them are among the 20% of people over the age of 60 and generally suffer from additional health problems that have compromised their immune systems. So we discovered with the data that has come in the past two months, and in particular from the more than eight million tests in the United States, that we have a significant problem for a fifth of people and a minimal problem for them. great majority. In Canada, this means that among people over the age of 65, there was about one death for 2,200 people, or a 22nd percent, which is a good rating for seniors. And since 20% of deaths occur among 80% of the population under 65, the chances of people in this age group being fatally affected by this pandemic are around one in nearly 40,000. the danger of death for 80% of people is not statistically significant, and there is no excuse for continuing a substantial part of the lockdown against them.

A woman and child cross a Toronto park on May 7.


Stan Behal / Toronto Sun / Postmedia Network

American testing, not contradicted by the experiences of other countries that have performed extensive testing, is that about half of those who contract the coronavirus have no symptoms, so the fear that people who survive an attack of coronaviruses are certain to have experienced a terrible crisis, the fatal test is not founded. And extensive research in New York, where there has been the highest concentration of disease occurrences in North America, well beyond that city’s proportional share in the U.S. population, reveals that two-thirds of infections have been contracted by people who have been observing the stop and staying at home. I supported the judgment as necessary to ensure that an illness we had reason to fear was more deadly and more pernicious than it spread to the general population. But now nothing could be more evident than the fact that there is a positive danger now, medically and economically, to continue the long distance stop as closely as it has been.

The confinement of millions of people does not reduce the risk of infection beyond a certain point, and this level of economic disruption is an unprecedented international act of self-impoverishment. The human damage from this amount of artificial unemployment cannot be borne much longer, nor can the tax burden of trying to compensate those who have been laid off because of public policy rather than their own fault or normal forces of freedom. market, and there’s no excuse for it. I’m not a gun enthusiast and I don’t like to shoot, but it was hard not to be impressed by the determination of large groups of Americans thronging state capitals last week, many of them exercising the right of the Second Amendment to bear arms, assert their right to move freely in their communities, to do their work, to earn their wages and to take care of their families. When my sons and daughter and I were all much younger, I took them to paintball parks in the interior of Florida and I was always amazed at how many adult men appeared in battle fighting and told me what arsenals they had in their homes with real firearms and how little they would be surprised if they had to at some point defend their homes against the government, as in the time of the American Revolution.

An armed protester gathers outside the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus, Ohio, on May 1.


Matthew Hatcher / Bloomberg

The sweeter tradition of this country has many attractions, and certain aspects of American society are crazy and violent. But the docility of Canadians who tolerate this nonsense is disheartening. Greater efforts should be made to provide for and isolate the vulnerable, who are almost all sensitive and aware of the dangers and can act with caution. The rest of the population should take a chance. They have almost no chance of a fatal encounter and little chance of an unpleasant illness. Our society must act sensibly to reduce the likelihood of dangerous infections, but stop this despicable huddle like moles and imagine that fear of the disease will never be a policy to ban it. It’s not about monetizing life and exalting trade. It is the recognition that too many people in this country seem reluctant to face: that we cannot justify the shortage of a fifth of the population, nearly eight million people, and the dangerous increase in public debt and of the money supply, to marginally reduce the deadly impact of a disease that takes such a small percentage of the population.

We know from Sweden what happens when the population is properly warned and restaurants, theaters and sporting events are somewhat cleared up, but essentially everything is almost normal: the death rate is around 2.5 times the rate in Canada and possibly 20% above the United States, and 90% of deaths in Sweden due to this virus occur in people aged 70 or older. Every death is a sadness and premature and preventable deaths are tragedies, but putting between a fifth and a third of the population in serious financial danger and at risk of accessory conditions which can also be fatal, to reduce the fatal incidence of the virus. from 320 people in a million out of the entire population to 200, is not a justifiable measure.

People are sitting in a restaurant in Stockholm on May 8, amid the COVID-19 pandemic.


Jonathan NACKSTRAND / AFP

The entire anti-coronavirus effort suffered from the mission creep: it was originally designed to prevent devastation that could reproduce the great London plague of the mid-17th century. Imperial College London predicted, somewhat cavalierly, about 2.2 million deaths in the United States, or about two-thirds of one percent of the total population. Stopping and taking it together has reduced the incidence of coronavirus, but a virus can remain dormant for a long time and cannot go away without a vaccine. Until a vaccine is developed, the best that can be done is to lead an economic life as normal as possible, to shelter the elderly and the infirm and to rely on the prudent majority to act. wisely but without obsession or cowardice. Ask neighbors to put police on neighbors because they suspect they are entertaining a friend for dinner, barricade the public outside the parks because too many people will want to see the cherry blossoms, get people out of the frogs beaches and fine or jail them, demean the police and insult everyone. It’s shameful and absurd.

It is ludicrous to say to 25-year-old couples, whether married or not, heterosexual or homosexual, that they should stand two meters apart in public. A sure sign that it went far enough happened this week when my tailor from Savile Row informed that designer masks were available. The rest of the world is getting back to work and comparative normality, in stages, but much faster than us. Nobody wants a rush; but neither do we want to and must not accept the fear of fear.

National post
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