As I write this commentary, the majority of businesses other than grocery and hardware stores, gas stations and convenience stores are shuttered. I realize that this pandemic is serious and will likely cause many to suffer the illness and many will die from it. However, I don’t believe it is necessary to shut down the entire U.S. economy.
It is becoming obvious the cure is worse than the illness. Flu season in the U.S., which runs from October through May, claims tens if not hundreds of thousands of lives every year. This season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that, as of mid-March, between 29,000 and 59,000 have died due to influenza illnesses. Add to that the misery of hundreds of thousands of flu-related hospitalizations and millions of medical visits for flu symptoms this season.
The World Health Organization reports flu causes 5 million cases of severe illness worldwide and kills 650,000 people a year. So, is the answer to this pandemic a closing of most all businesses? Is the answer to close the parks and lakes? For heaven’s sake don’t go fishing or hiking by yourself and, by all means, stay away from the garden.
If these were the answers, then we should consider shutting down all vehicular travel. Consider the fact that, on average, 100 people perish in automobile accidents nationwide each and every day. If we were to eliminate driving one day of the week, statistically speaking, we could save 5,200 lives each year. If we outlawed driving altogether, we would save upward of 30,000 lives each year. Why don’t we do that?
Simply, it is a balance of commerce, personal freedom and the fact that while “all lives matter” it is also accepted by the majority of folks that some lives are an affordable risk. All of us who travel by auto accept this risk and the world keeps revolving. There are numerous examples of activities that if curtailed or minimized, lives would be spared but, we don’t do it for the good of the majority.
In 2020, an estimated 1,735,350 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in the United States and 609,640 people will die from the disease. This is a huge number. Why are we not utilizing all of our resources for this?
In 2017, diabetes was mentioned as a cause of death on a total of 270,702 death certificates. Do you see any outrage? Total deaths as of this writing for the Chinese-born virus in the United States is 39,425 with a total 747,806 infected. Nevada has 3,626 confirmed cases and only 157 deaths statewide.
That’s with a statewide population of 3 million. Why are we strangling our economy and livelihoods for such a small number of fatalities? The entire state of Nevada has 157 deaths and we are hurting the livelihood of people with small businesses and shutting down entire industries; it doesn’t make one bit of sense.
In 2018, Nevada had 330 traffic fatalities, nearly double of the virus deaths thus far. All of this needs to be presented in a logical and more reasonable perspective. Take barber shops and hair salons, for example. If you are at risk, stay away. If you are reasonably sure you don’t have the virus and/or willing to take the chance of getting it, go. The stylists and the barbers don’t have to work if they don’t want to. Let’s leave it up to them.
Simply, if you are afraid of flying, don’t fly. If you are afraid of getting into an auto accident, don’t drive. If you are afraid of catching an illness from someone, don’t go to the casino, theater, restaurant or take an airline flight. If you are afraid of catching this virus and are elderly or at high risk for infection, then I would probably suggest that you self-quarantine and stay away from the crowds. But, to mandate the closing of these activities for everyone else is ridiculous. The cost of doing so will harm this country much more severely and could potentially last for centuries to come. Just look at the numbers folks.
G. Kevin Savord is currently a professional pilot and former small business owner. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.