Politics and pandemics don’t mix well.
In the midst of emotions and political polarization, governments and the media seem unable to properly frame the COVID-19 issue and clarify the proper objective for our society. Simply stated, the objective for any government (federal, state or municipal) should be to always maintain as much societal activity as possible without overwhelming the medical system.
The same concept stated differently means that the government objective should be to survive the virus outbreak while minimizing the amount of impact to society. Minimizing the impact to society ought to be obvious, but it does not seem to be. Many governors, mayors and media voices advocate unbridled societal restrictions, which have the effect of amplifying the crisis rather than minimizing it.
Errors should be made on the side of societal activity and societal openness, not on the side of societal restrictions. The government should guard against overreaction. Overreaction makes the cure worse than the disease.
By definition, experiencing a crisis means there will be tragic consequences. Throughout the crisis, the greater good of the group (nation, state, municipality) enjoys a higher priority over any single individual. Maintaining as much economic activity as possible comes with COVID deaths, just as each year comes with influenza deaths. Unfortunately, political polarization has distorted people’s perspectives on what the overall objective should be.
Specifically stated, the objective is not to win first place in a contest of who has the least number of reported COVID cases, thereby unnecessarily destroying businesses and jobs. Surviving the crisis while minimizing the impact to society can only be accomplished by erring on the side of activity rather than restrictions throughout the ordeal. Unfortunately, poor decision-making has made the situation worse than it had to be.