As much of the world continues to struggle in the face of the horrifying COVID-19 outbreak, two camps have solidly emerged: those opposed to lockdowns and those who are generally in favor of them.

This has also emerged, like so much in our country, as a polemical discussion featuring right and left arguments that verge on hysteria at times. It is my firm belief, as someone solidly part of the economic left, that a stay-at-home order should never be implemented again in Boone County if viral spread worsens.

Despite the growing number of cases, we must embrace a middle ground with far less devastating consequences. We are evolving toward that middle ground right now, as we reopen our society.

I am, admittedly, one of those people who leans left on economic issues, who initially accepted the lockdowns. However, after about three weeks into it, as I saw the economy imploding and civil liberties being violated, particularly of African Americans in the Eastern cities, who have been cited and arrested far more frequently for not wearing masks and abiding by “social distancing rules,” I began to deeply question the validity of these draconian lockdown mandates.

Furthermore, the data has begun to show that lockdowns lack efficacy in preventing viral spread. There is much data from Spain and elsewhere that, indeed, viral spread was worsened by these mandates.

The Norwegian prime minister, Erna Solber, now admits to regretting lockdown because of the psychological and economic consequences on citizens of Norway.

We are not having a similar discussion in the U.S., which is deeply troubling to me.

The lockdowns in the U.S. have been an economic catastrophe, wiping out whole family household incomes, job prospects and health insurance. Less immediate but just as insidious and far-flung negative outcomes may come in the future, such as drug addiction, suicide, crime and vice that comes with unemployment and hopelessness.

This economic catastrophe has caused great alarm among independent thinkers of all political stripes, especially since lockdown was placed upon a population in the U.S. that does not have a safety net to begin with.

Many psychologists have also admitted to waiting for a painful “second wave” of people suffering from mental illness and addiction exacerbated by the completely un-humanlike aspects of being quarantined for months at a time.

We are the most social of animals. Quarantine is not and has never been part of our DNA.

Many left-leaning people are beginning to realize that because of these lockdown mandates, vastly more people, perhaps in unprecedented magnitudes, will die from poverty, malnutrition, drug overdoses, medical conditions and many other ailments that afflict the unemployed, the desperate and the homeless than will ever die during this pandemic.

It has also become glaringly and painfully obvious to me that the survivors (you might call them, in fact, “winners”) of this economic catastrophe are again those who deserve it the least:big tech companies, like Amazon and Facebook; billionaires; and Wall Street financiers.

We must take a very hard look at the long-term consequences of locking down whole societies before we ever initiate something like it again.

There are many, many different tactics that can be broadly accepted that make our society safe in the face of this virus without the societal and culture destroying effects of lockdowns: more testing, limitations on large gatherings, masks, careful hygiene, stringent visitation requirements in care homes and occupancy limits in public buildings and businesses.

We must begin to start to investigate whether or not the lockdowns were a badly flawed epidemiological and social experiment. There are many independent thinkers who believe they were and who will vociferously oppose any more attempts at another stay-at-home order in Boone County and elsewhere.

Seth Smith of Columbia describes himself as a “dad of two awesome girls who believes in the politics of the common good.”

About opinions in the Missourian: The Missourian’s Opinion section is a public forum for the discussion of ideas. The views presented in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Missourian or the University of Missouri. If you would like to contribute to the Opinion page with a response or an original topic of your own, visit our submission form.

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