The coming bout of COVID polarization

A bad flu outbreak could trigger testing on a level that would almost automatically create school closures and other business shutdowns.

And even positivity rates may not hold up as the metric by which schools and other institutions are closed and re-opened. With sufficient panic, we may return to the standards in the early spring, when in New York schools closed the moment a single student or teacher tested positive for the virus. All the work at half-time schedules, segregated “pods” of students in schools, and social distancing can be written off if politically motivated reasoning alone can heighten the panic.

Conservatives will be motivated to counter this mood just as fiercely. They will argue that positivity-rate metrics for COVID restrictions are often uncomfortably close to the false-positivity rate of some major available COVID tests. They will argue that the institutions in charge of deciding the fate of children and the larger social order are often run by people who are themselves politically biased toward closing, at least until November. They will be called truthers, and deniers, and participants in human sacrifice.