Letter: Leaders must weigh personal, economic impacts of COVID-19 policies
The Steamboat Pilot & Today article, “Policing in a Pandemic: Citations, arrests raise concern over COVID-19 public health orders,” does a fine job highlighting the difficulties we are having in developing our policies in response to the spread of this disease. I would, however, like to highlight one point for discussion: The role scientists should play in the development of local and national policy.
Though some in this community may only know me as a “pot guy,” I also co-founded a biopharmaceutical company with a world-renowned Harvard/MIT professor of medicine. In my capacity as CEO of that entity, I had the privilege to lead numerous world-class scientists. There, I found one overriding personality trait shared by most staff — the inability to look at, examine and balance non-subject matter variables against their areas of focus and expertise.
We must consider this along with Dr. Harrington’s and Dr. Fauci’s primary obligation to protect human lives (as it should be), when setting COVID-19 policy. Come election time, politicians hate to be caught on the wrong side of a hot-button issue, and the “easy” path here is to lean on the physicians/epidemiologists and take the conservative track: keep folks locked up, keep folks scared, keep fatalities down.
However, it is incumbent upon our leaders to fully weigh the personal and economic impacts such policies present. If we maintain the status quo longitudinally, we run the risk of forever losing Steamboat Springs as we know it. Our community is reliant upon discretionary spending and will not survive if cloistered until a vaccine is released. What small businesses or individual could withstand 18 months of revenue/wage loss?
As the data rolls in, it is becoming clearer that COVID-19 proves deadly in great percentages only to limited populations. In New York City, just 1.2% of all COVID-19 deaths can be attributed to those under the age of 65 who do not also have an underlying condition.
Therefore, to politicians from Steamboat to D.C. I write this: Grow backbones. Listen to the experts but acknowledge that the threat of local and global economic depression is very real. Consider targeted stay-in-place orders for specific demographics, but as with myriad other daily matters, allow our citizens to determine for themselves what risk levels they are willing to accept to help preserve their hard-earned freedoms and financial stability.
As deadly as COVID-19 can be, this is not airborne Ebola and putting everything on lucky #7 in an attempt to completely curb the spread of this virus is a spurious bet with freedom and livelihood of the wagers.
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