Lockdowns for Thee but Not for Me

Tyler Cowen worries about health experts who supported the lockdowns and also the protests. Discussing one such party, Cowen writes, “My worries run deep. Should the original lockdown recommendations have been asterisked with a ‘this is my lesser, non-citizen self speaking’ disclaimer? Should those who broke the earlier lockdowns, to save their jobs or visit their relatives, or go to their churches, or they wanted to see their dying grandma but couldn’t . . . have been able to cite their role as ‘citizens’ as good reason for opposing the recommendations of the ‘scientists’? Does the author have much scientific expertise in how likely these protests are to prove successful? Does typing the word ‘c-i-t-i-z-e-n’ relieve one of the burden of estimating how much public health credibility will be lost if/when we are told that another lockdown is needed to forestall a really quite possible second wave? Does the author have a deep understanding of the actual literature on the ‘science/citizen’ distinction, value freedom in science, the normative role of the advisor, and so on?”

As I have noted, various health experts have indeed voiced concerns about the protests spreading SARS-CoV-2. Still, Cowen has a point.

Related: Dan Diamond writes, “For months, public health experts have urged Americans to take every precaution to stop the spread of Covid-19—stay at home, steer clear of friends and extended family, and absolutely avoid large gatherings. Now some of those experts are broadcasting a new message: It’s time to get out of the house and join the mass protests against racism.”

I’m going to watch the numbers closely. If it turns out that the protests don’t lead to a disease spike, I’m going to totally stop worrying about outdoor activities. If there is a spike, I’ll maintain stricter distancing.

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