My Turn: Coronavirus not ‘novel’ — just another virus

Published: 6/5/2020 2:31:44 PM
Modified: 6/5/2020 2:31:32 PM

The “novel” coronavirus isn’t really novel. It’s just one more virus in a world of viruses. It’s more infectious than some, less deadly than others. Refer to the recent issue of Discover for perspective. Compared to past plagues, COVID-19 barely makes a blip.

If draconian quarantines had been implemented in Wuhan early on, perhaps it could have been contained, but the horse has long since fled from that barn. As the movie says, “life finds a way.”

Urged on by fear, we stumbled into our current response, melding experiences of past diseases with a dose of “Well, it should work, and it couldn’t hurt” into a rigid system of masks, surface sterilization, social distancing and incident tracking. Is any of it effective? Not really.

Medical masks properly worn and regularly changed will limit the transmission from an actively infectious host. If the person isn’t contagious, if the mask is improperly worn, if it’s not regularly changed, it’s pointless. Homemade masks are useless.

Social distancing doesn’t necessarily work, either. One Australian antibody study revealed service workers who sheltered at home had higher incidences of COVID-19 than those who went to their jobs.

No one paid much attention to the CDC (Centers of Disease Control) report that surfaces aren’t a significant source of COVID19 infections. It wasn’t scary enough to merit inclusion in a news stream that survives by stoking fear.

The Germans have determined that outdoor transmission is minimal. Many sources report that the virus is destroyed by heat and sun.

As the Italians are discovering, COVID-19 will fade away. It may return as seasonal flu, or simply disappear, like Hong Kong flu of the 1960s. But what now?

COVID-19 is deadly for the elderly and infirm, as many diseases are. The best strategy to deal with the threat is already known: healthy diet, exercise, sunshine, fresh air and a robust immune system. Does our current response actually support this?

Lock-downs and quarantines certainly don’t facilitate exercise, or increase exposure to fresh air and sunshine. Supply-chain disruptions and economic hardship don’t encourage healthy diets. Sterilizing surfaces, isolating individuals and increasing stress levels don’t support a healthy immune system.

It seems that our current approach to COVID-19 is actually counter-productive, so why are we perpetuating it? Is it only because we are told to, and we are too afraid to disobey even when commanded to do demonstrably pointless things? This dictatorial foolishness is even touted as “social responsibility” and a “commitment to help others,” by big-government advocates.

Fear is a wonderful motivator, but destructive of rational thought. Unfortunately, we have become a people driven by a “fear of the day,” amplified by the media. Our “leaders,” anxious to avoid blame for anything, push their decision-making onto “experts,” who cavalierly advise and then exploit their privileged positions to escape the consequences of their bad advice. Besides, it’s become unimportant whether actions are actually effective as long as people can be convinced that “something is being done.” That’s how we ended up in this miserable state. As statisticians have detailed, the damage to mankind from the response to COVID-19 far outstrips the damage from the virus itself. Government actions harm us more than the disease does. Perhaps we should have listened to Trump who, early on, said, “We must make sure the cure isn’t the worse than the disease.” In retrospect, he was prescient.

Is there any hope of turning this around? Bureaucrats are congenitally loathe to admit they’re wrong or surrender their power, so relief seems unlikely, and many people will dig in their heels rather than admit they were fooled. Already, despite the contradicting data, some rush to conclude that things would have been worse if we hadn’t dictated the extreme measures. They’re like the gullible customers of the tiger-repellant salesman. When confronted by a skeptic saying, “but we don’t have tigers here,” the salesman replies, “See, it works!”

John Blasiak lives in Greenfield. Thoughtful comments are welcome at

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