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Letting the virus spread unchecked cannot fail, it can only be failed

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Atlas just shrugged it out:

Second, nearly all states used the same draconian policies that people now insist on hardening, even though the number of positive cases increased while people’s movements were constrained, business activities were strictly limited, and schools were closed. Governors in all but a few states—Florida and South Dakota are notable exceptions—imposed curfews, quarantines, directives on group gatherings, and mask mandates.

As Phillip Bump observes, this is ludicrously mendacious nonsense:

It’s hard to overstate both how dishonest Atlas’s argument is and how ironic it is that he should point the blame elsewhere. He makes false assertions about where states have been successful and suggests that mitigation efforts that weren’t 100 percent effective shouldn’t be used. He boasts that the effort to combat the spread of the virus was left to states — which is precisely the criticism aimed at President Trump’s administration. When Trump (and Atlas) undercut efforts to slow the spread of the virus, Trump supporters — including state leaders — picked up on that approach, contributing to the current spread.

Trump and Atlas shared the view that allowing the virus to spread was beneficial, as doing so increased population immunity. That another result would be surging deaths was met with a shrug or silence.

At the end of March, Trump offered one of his only forceful endorsements of slowing the spread of the virus. Having been presented with research indicating that as many as 2.2 million Americans would die of the virus if no effort was taken to limit its spread, he endorsed stay-at-home measures aimed at preventing new infections. His team suggested that implementing such mitigation efforts would keep the death toll under 240,000, with the added benefit of preventing hospitals from being overwhelmed.

[…]

Right now, though, thousands of people are dying every day and tens of thousands more are on an inevitable path to the same result. More robust efforts to prevent new infections could have reduced these numbers, as robust efforts did elsewhere (contrary to Atlas’s theories). A consistent, forceful message from a president whose base is devoutly supportive of him would unquestionably have reshaped the virus’s spread. Had Trump embraced the expertise of government virologists, instead of a radiologist he saw on Fox News, it would have perhaps pushed the curve depicting the number of deaths each day back down instead of driving it higher.

This was the deadliest year in American history. Perhaps it would inevitably have been, given the size of the population (particularly the elderly population) and the emergence of covid-19. But it unquestionably didn’t have to be as deadly as it was.

But this bullshit is getting a lot of people killed:

Tennessee has been at or near the top of the list of US states with the highest rate of new Covid-19 cases over the past week, data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show. Just in the last few days, the novel coronavirus sickened the state’s first lady, sending Gov. Bill Lee into an extended quarantine. The virus also tore through the University of Tennessee’s football team, infecting coach Jeremy Pruitt and abruptly ending the team’s season.People sick with severe Covid-19 have put a critical strain on hospitals, but there are no plans to open a field hospital — because there is not enough health care staff to support one.In a video address Sunday night, Gov. Lee acknowledged that Tennessee “is ground zero for a surge in sickness.”

No state has more total new cases than California, but adjusted for population, Tennessee’s outbreak is worse. Over the past week, Tennessee has averaged about 9,300 new coronavirus cases per day, the 5th-most of any state in the country despite having the 16th-highest population. That daily number of new cases is even more than Pennsylvania, which has nearly twice as many people.

[…]

Despite the urgent warnings, Gov. Lee, a former businessman elected as a Republican in 2018, has resisted taking the aggressive actions favored by other states including New York or California and has instead taken a similar hands-off approach as that of North or South Dakota, the states with the most cases per capita in the pandemic.Crucially, Lee declined to issue a mask mandate, leaving the decision up to local officials.

A LOT of people have behaved unforgivably this year, and Atlas near the top of the list.

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