In March 2020, the citizens of this country were told that a two-week lockdown was necessary to “slow the spread” of a then-unknown virus coming out of China. Americans complied, many of them begrudgingly — yet months later, many of these same Americans hardly blinked when political leaders insisted that lockdowns should continue with no timeline or real-time scientific data to support them.
What on earth happened?
Dr. Lapado, an associate professor at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine, penned an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal on April 19, 2021, titled, “An American Epidemic of ‘COVID Mania.” In it, he proposes that the problem isn’t only the tremendous overreaction to COVID but the diminution of every other problem. Lapado asserts, “One lesson that should transcend ideological differences: Don’t put one illness above other problems in society, a condition known as COVID Mania.” There is no doubt that COVID has caused heartbreak and suffering, particularly for the elderly and their loved ones. But COVID has a very low mortality rate, estimated at 0.01% for people under 40, and thus never posed a serious threat to social and economic institutions.
According to Lapado, COVID Mania crowded out reasoned and wise policy making. In fact, COVID was elevated so high above other problems in society that new rules have been written and new norms accepted. While liberty is a bedrock American right, Lapado laments, “COVID Mania led many policy makers to treat liberty as a nuisance rather than a core American principle.”
A perfect example is California’s attempt to impose mandated mask-wearing last summer. California had very high rates of compliance with its guidelines, but COVID cases surged during winter 2021. Rather than focusing on how to reduce the spread of COVID — perhaps with better outpatient therapies or early intervention — COVID Mania demanded compliance with “rules,” which did not seem to work very well.
In an article published December 30, 2020, in Reviews in Cardiovascular Medicine, fifty-seven physicians called for immediate deployment of early medical interventions that have successfully reduced hospitalizations and fatalities. The outpatient therapies cited include zinc, vitamin D, vitamin C, hydroxychloroquine, ivermectin, and azithromycin. Why were these ignored? Because they didn’t fit the narrative of how to “slow the spread.”
COVID mania has also created conflicts over vaccine mandates. These same people who assured the American people that a few weeks of lockdowns would definitely control the pandemic are now trying to convince us that we must vaccinate our children. These vaccines have neither been tested nor approved for children under the age of 16 years old. Children account for less than 0.1% of COVID deaths in the U.S. There is simply not enough known about these vaccines to conclude that the benefits outweigh potential risks to children. Mandating a vaccine for children without knowing whether the benefits outweigh the risks is unethical.
The more than 15 months of almost total societal lockdown here in California has devastated lives, and the policies grounded in COVID Mania have compounded the harm. We must take back our lives and decide the level of risk each of us is willing to take to resume a normal and sane way of life. We face challenges that require rational decision-making, which considers the costs and benefits of every aspect of society and is not driven by mania over just one. When we value liberty and use it to solve problems in a balanced, comprehensive way, we honor our American way of life — and overcome the greatest challenges we face.