The damage to the economy and mental health caused by the closures and restrictions outweighs the threat of the disease itself, the skeptics insisted. Well, maybe in some cases, like elementary school closings – but in general, a disease that has killed at least 500,000 Americans has more than warranted a robust attempt to stop its spread. However: Once the elderly and vulnerable are genuinely protected, the death toll drops and vaccines are generally available, the toll that emergency measures take on just about everyone – business owners, students. , churches, parents, school-aged children, single people. and the old – will get far worse than the lingering coronavirus threat.
But because a few The threat will likely last – maybe through the winter, maybe indefinitely – there may be pressures on anxious governments to keep emergency measures in place or lift them very slowly, and similar pressures on those responsible. public health so that they overestimate the persistent risks.
For example, the fact that a vaccine might not be approved for children until 2022 could become a reason for schools to extend virtual learning for another semester – even though teachers can be vaccinated and the coronavirus does not appear. not be more dangerous for children than the flu.
Or, fear that a more lethal or vaccine-avoidant variant could occur could become a reason to maintain restrictions on restaurants, religious services, or private gatherings during the fall or winter – even though the possibility of a new variant could easily be with us. every year, for decades, and we might as well start adjusting right now.
Or the fear of a chronic, long-term appearing Covid – which is a really scary part of this disease – could be cited as a reason the restrictions must remain in place until the virus is fully eradicated . But other diseases can also have chronic consequences, and yet life goes on around them: we don’t close schools for the Epstein-Barr virus, despite its link to chronic fatigue syndrome, or we ourselves. expect New England state parks to be closed all spring and summer due to the risk of Lyme disease becoming chronic.
To be clear, I can imagine scenarios for fall or winter 2021 involving a variant that is particularly deadly or more dangerous for children, where the reimposition of emergency measures might be necessary. And if we end up keeping the mask warrants a little longer than necessary, and there is more mask wearing during the winter months and on public transport in the future, then it’s not. the biggest burden in the world.
But the danger of Biden and Fauci’s overly cautious public rhetoric and Christmas expectation is that it provides cover and encouragement for fearful officials to extend the emergency package for many unnecessary months.