Jacobin has published an approving interview with two Harvard academics who advocate…Florida and Sweden as models for COVID-19 response. I’m dead serious:
Sweden has pursued an age-targeted strategy, with the aim of protecting high-risk older people while children still go to school and young adults live reasonably normal lives. While there has been near universal criticism from international mainstream media, the strategy has wide popular support within the country.
Except for the failure to protect nursing home residents in Stockholm, the country has done well without a lockdown. For example, day care centers and schools were never closed for children aged one to fifteen, with zero COVID-19 deaths as a result and only a few hospitalizations. Moreover, teachers faced the same risk as the average among other professions. COVID-19 mortality is now close to zero in Sweden, and the United States has now passed Sweden in terms of deaths per million inhabitants, despite Sweden having an older, more high-risk population.
The Swedish age-targeted approach is similar to the strategy used in South Dakota and the current strategy in Florida. It is the opposite of the strategies employed in New York and Massachusetts, where low-risk children are prevented from going to school and low-risk young professionals protect themselves by working from home, while older working-class people must go to work to feed their families, and where elderly infected patients were sent to nursing homes to infect other high-risk residents.
This strategy has caused enormous harm to the working class, especially the urban working class, since infectious diseases tend to affect urban areas more harshly than rural areas.
Florida, with a population of 21.5 million, has had 688,000 diagnosed cases of COVID-19 with 13, 415 deaths. Canada, with a population 37.6 million, has had had 146,000 diagnosed cases and 9, 232 deaths. South Dakota, for its part, has less than 1/37th of Canada’s population but has more than 1/5th the deaths. And as is well known Sweden has had far more COVID-19 related deaths than its neighbors with no corresponding economic benefits. How can you possible see these as positive models?
The Jacobin interviewer, while passing over the dismal results in Florida, does bring up the obvious issue with Sweden, and the response is just pure Trumpian gibberish:
Ok, but what about Denmark, Norway, and Finland? Sweden’s death rate was five times higher than Denmark and roughly ten times higher than Norway and Finland?MK
You are correct. To date, Swedish COVID-19 mortality has been higher than in some and lower than in other lockdown countries. While it is popular to compare COVID-19 mortality rates between countries, it’s not a great metric. It’s like judging marathon runners by their positions after thirty minutes of the race.
Mortality rates also vary greatly between different regions within the same country despite a uniform strategy, depending on where and when the disease first arrived. Rather than deaths per population, a more relevant but elusive metric is the number of deaths per infected. A universal lockdown can successfully postpone cases into the future, as it has done in some countries, but in doing so it also postpones the buildup of immunity.
“Scandinavia — a land of contrasts! Also, more infections and deaths are Good Actually because Herd Immunity!” This is like a give ’em enough tope Chotiner interview except that Jacobin’s editors think the interviewees are coming off well. (The interviewer and interviewee also seem in agreement that the United States is in “lockdown,” which what? I live in a jurisdiction with measures that have been more interventionist than many, and gyms and indoor dining are open.)
On the “herd immunity” strategy, see threads here and here; the tl; dr is that a “herd immunity” strategy will lead to many more infections and deaths than countries that have suppressed the virus without any guarantee that infections will stop. And needless to say despite the handwaving about social equity these infections and deaths will be disproportionately people of color and poor people. Then there’s this:
Children and young adults have minimal risk, and there is no scientific or public health rationale to close day care centers, schools, or colleges.
Children and young adults can die from COVID-19 even if their survival odds are better, they can certainly suffer bad long-term health effects from it even if they survive, and they interact with more vulnerable populations. The idea that there is “no scientific rationale” for wanting to avoid mass infections is ludicrously false.
What a disgrace to publish this, but when “owning the libs” becomes your sole mission you’re bound to turn into the Daily Caller eventually. It makes me long for the articles about how American liberalism was defined by Harry Potter, which were equally stupid but at least harmless.