China virus quarantine may kill economy

Published 2:08 pm Saturday, March 28, 2020

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

By Michael Shannon

The politician’s response to the coronavirus is the medical equivalent of the 10 percent across-the-board budget cut where politicians faced with a budget shortfall take the coward’s way out and cut every budget.

Thereby treating the useful just as harshly as the useless.

Real leaders would eliminate the useless while protecting the useful, but down that path lies criticism about ‘fairness.’

The China virus shutdowns operate on the same principle and are equally short-sighted.

Anyone under age 55, without an underlying health condition, has an infinitesimal chance of dying from the China Flu. And the entire U.S. population has a smaller chance of catching the Kung Flu than breathless OpMedia reports would have one believe.

Let’s take the Diamond Princess’ Fabulous Contagion Cruise. There were a total of 3,711 passengers and crew aboard. After the disease was detected the ship was put under an enforced quarantine.

The general consensus is the so-called quarantine was a FEMA-sized disaster. Wired quotes Kentaro Iwata, an infection control specialist at Kobe University, who said the effort “violated all infection control principles.” Yet the aftermath wasn’t a disaster.

The ship was effectively an infection Petri dish for the Wuhan Flu, with much more exposure to the disease than would normally be expected. A total of 705 were infected. That’s an infection rate of only 19 percent after hanging around the Contagion Buffet for weeks. To put that in context, the Diamond Princess worst case scenario for infection was less than 10 points higher than the U.S. flu infection rate of 11 percent, which is held down because 45 percent of the population gets a yearly flu shot.

WoePost figures for Wuhan were even better. There about 1 out of every 200 people exposed became infected. Of the infected, 99 out of 100 recovered. As Obama’s former CDC Director Tom Frieden observed, “The bottom line is, this is not the zombie apocalypse. We’re not all going to die.”

This is not the end of the world, but panicked politicians may make it the end of the economy.

The sensible approach is not closing the schools. Even the CDC says washing your hands has more impact on disease transmission than closing schools. There was no difference in the spread of the disease between Hong Kong, which closed schools, and Singapore, which didn’t.

And it certainly isn’t sensible to close restaurants, retail stores, government offices, shopping malls and everything else petty bureaucrats drunk on power and panicked by a disease have shuttered. Michael T. Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota told the WoePost, “Right now, we’ve got people literally just following each other off the edge of a cliff because they’re not thinking.”

“But there’s no cure!” shout news poodles. This is true. But before 1968 there was no regular campaign of flu vaccinations, yet society soldiered on.

Even in Italy, where China Flu fatalities are increasingly high, the news doesn’t justify nationwide shutdowns here. Journalist Sharyl Attkisson writes: “Italy has the oldest population in Europe and more elderly per capita than the U.S. Most of the Italian deaths are in patients in their 80s and 90s.”

This is the Shehui baozhang Flu. (That’s Mandarin for Social Security.)

Instead of industry-wide shutdowns and curfews, authorities should order everyone aged 55 and above to self-quarantine. Keeping those under 55 on the job would greatly mitigate the impact on the economy and the taxpayer.

Citizens under a self-quarantine would telework. If that option was unavailable then they should be able to apply for already existing unemployment insurance programs — supplemented by federal funds and not by new federal programs. The over 55s would be joined by the under 55s with an underlying health condition that would make the virus more dangerous to them.

This step would vastly reduce the disruption to the economy and concurrently reduce the cost of federal ‘stimulus’ programs. More important, it would let people take control of their own disease prevention measures.

U.S. grocery stores could emulate the Australian Woolworth grocery store’s “Elderly Only” shopping hour. The most vulnerable, yet mobile, seniors can do their shopping without exposure to younger potential disease carriers. It would make sense for gyms and restaurants to do the same.

After two weeks or so people between 55 and 60 could be released from self-quarantine. Yes, some would get the China Flu, but a limited age group wouldn’t overwhelm hospitals. Continue to release age groups over time until the threat is passed.

Our current one-size-fits-all quarantine is misdirected, poorly targeted and becoming universal.

As this is written even Texas has succumbed to hysteria and imposed mandatory quarantines. Proving herd mentality is even more contagious than the Wuhan Flu.

MICHAEL SHANNON is a commentator and public relations consultant, and is the author of “A Conservative Christian’s Guidebook for Living in Secular Times.” He can be reached at