By Jeffrey A. Tucker
What was the basis of panic that led the lights to darken on civilization? The most important date here might be March 11, 2020. That’s when Congress itself flew into an unwarranted panic, and acquiesced to a lockdown at the urging of the “experts.” State governors followed one by one, with few exceptions, and the rest of the world joined the lockdown frenzy.
In February, people were aching to know the answer to the following. Would this “novel virus” have familiar patterns we associate with the flu, seasonal colds, and other predictable and manageable pathogens? Or would this be something entirely different, unprecedented in our lifetimes, terrifying, and universally deadly?
Crucial in this stage was public-health messaging. In previous pandemics from post-1918 throughout the 20th century, the central messaging was to stay calm, go to the doctor if you feel sick, avoid deliberately infecting others, and otherwise trust the systems in place and keep society functioning. This was long considered responsible public-health messaging, and this was pretty much where we stood throughout most of January and February, when publications regardless of their political outlook maintained sobriety and rationality.
Something dramatically changed this time. They pushed panic, tapping into a primal fear of disease. The reality of pandemic, as it turns out, has been familiar. The severity of its impact has been radically disparate across demographics, hitting mainly the elderly and infirm with 40% of deaths tracing to long-term care facilities with an average age of death nearly equal to the average lifespan. It is regionally migratory. It follows a seasonal pattern from pandemic to its endemic equilibrium.