Thursday , September 24 2020
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My Covid Cri de Cœur

Summary:
In my latest column for AIER I protest against what I have come quite firmly to believe is an immense overreaction to the covid pandemic. Note that I do not say that covid is a hoax; it most certainly is not a hoax. Nor do I say that it is not dangerous, especially for some specific groups of people. I do say, however, that covid is nothing close to the “monster” that it has become in the popular imagination. A slice: Am I excessively, perhaps even irresponsibly, discounting COVID’s dangers? I claim no infallibility; perhaps I am indeed mistaken. Perhaps COVID really is the once-in-a-lifetime monster that Mr. DeWine, some writers at the Washington Post, and many other people believe it to be. But I offer two pieces of evidence to support my skepticism of the popular image of COVID.

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In my latest column for AIER I protest against what I have come quite firmly to believe is an immense overreaction to the covid pandemic. Note that I do not say that covid is a hoax; it most certainly is not a hoax. Nor do I say that it is not dangerous, especially for some specific groups of people. I do say, however, that covid is nothing close to the “monster” that it has become in the popular imagination. A slice:

Am I excessively, perhaps even irresponsibly, discounting COVID’s dangers? I claim no infallibility; perhaps I am indeed mistaken. Perhaps COVID really is the once-in-a-lifetime monster that Mr. DeWine, some writers at the Washington Post, and many other people believe it to be. But I offer two pieces of evidence to support my skepticism of the popular image of COVID.

The first piece of evidence – and on this matter you’ll have to take my word – is that I’ve become over the past several weeks worried not one bit about suffering from COVID. Early on – perhaps irrationally – I was worried a bit, but not greatly. Now – I think quite rationally – I’m not worried at all. This fact is so despite my not being, let’s us say, super-young. Next month I’ll turn 62. So despite being in good health, I am indeed nevertheless at more of a risk of suffering severely from COVID than are any of my students. Yet COVID frightens me no more than does driving an automobile or climbing (as I did recently) to the top stair of a step-ladder to change a lightbulb.

I wear a mask when I’m indoors in public places. I do so to avoid spreading COVID to others who are higher risks than I am. (As far as I’m aware, I’m COVID-free. But I’ve not been tested, so it’s possible that I have it.) If the only reason to wear a mask would be to protect myself from COVID, I’d never wear one. Or, to put this point somewhat differently, if my concern were only with myself, I’d be as likely to start wearing a mask in supermarkets and restaurants as I’d be to stop traveling to supermarkets and restaurants by automobile.

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Don Boudreaux
He is a professor of economics at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. Previously, he was president of the Foundation for Economic Education.

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