A Plague of Pandemic Restrictions Builds Herd Immunity to Arbitrary Rules
Perhaps the only thing worse than being subjected to seemingly arbitrary and intrusive rules imposed to fight a pandemic is when those same rules fail to accomplish their goals. Instead of effective infectious disease control, you get fatigue with commands issued by officials who seem to have no idea what they’re doing, as we’re seeing during the COVID-19 crisis. Given the resulting pushback against ineffective, nonsensical rules, expect widespread cynicism toward official dictates to linger after the virus is history.
Consider New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat who, early in the crisis, ordered his state’s nursing homes—over their protests—to take in people who had tested positive for COVID-19. “In the weeks that followed the March 25 order,” ProPublica reported, the disease “tore through New York state’s nursing facilities, killing more than 6,000 people.”
While that fatal error did not lead Cuomo to grapple publicly with his own poor judgment, it did diminish his credibility. He later decreed which drinking establishments were allowed to open based not on health criteria but on their sale of snacks. “Establishments must only serve alcohol to people who are also ordering food,” he announced.
Perhaps doubtful about the antiviral powers of munchies, some bar owners complied by making menus featuring things like $1 “Cuomo chips” and penny lollipops. “More
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