Discrediting these estimates is not an exercise in Monday morning quarterbacking: The disease’s course in the advanced, free nations hit first in East Asia such as Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan revealed a dangerous but manageable outbreak that was controlled without the extreme economic shutdown we have adopted in the United States.
But perhaps the most telling statistic is that about half of the total cases and deaths have occurred within the broader New York metropolitan area. Remove that outbreak hotspot from the picture and one is left with 6,000 premature deaths of mostly elderly individuals with underlying health conditions in a country of 327 million. Each of these deaths is a personal tragedy for the families and communities involved and, of course, the victim. But this toll is being surmounted by an even heavier economic impact that itself will harm and shorten lives dramatically.
Governors who heeded public health officials have locked down all but eight U.S. states. The eight “holdouts,” as they are derided, have all put in place measures to slow the virus’s inevitable spread, but declined to take the additional economy-killing step of ordering all but non-essential workers to stay at home.