OK. I’ll bite.

I’m speaking from Australia, where we might get a dozen new cases across the whole continent in a day, and fatalities are maybe two or three a week. We took effective action, we’ve gotten on top of the thing, in a couple of weeks we’ll be joining the countries who have eliminated the virus. Like New Zealand, who secured their borders early and enforced a solid lockdown.

Our state borders are gradually reopening, though Queensland is talking about staying closed until September. International travel, of course, is pretty much out of the question until next year, though we may be able to establish a trans-Tasman “bubble” with New Zealand.

Restrictions on gatherings are easing, workplaces are re-opening, cafes and restaurants are accepting limited numbers of diners.

But, as I say, this is because we have virtually eliminated the disease, we’ve got a national tracking app widely used, and if anybody catches it, all their contacts are traced and tested.

In America, leading the world in number of cases, total deaths, and daily rates, it’s a totally different sitiuation.

  1. How dangerous do you think outside is, with and without a mask? If your answer is very dangerous, I would point out that outdoors is generally considered much safer than indoors.
    It’s not a matter of being inside or outside so much as how close people are to each other, and what they are doing. If you have a bunch of people cheering on the team at the old ball park, then they are going to be breathing on each other fairly intensively, touching surfaces, possibly making bodily contact. A few readers in a library nicely spaced out, not so much of a problem. If I was outside my home bubble, yeah, I’d definitely be wearing a mask in the cesspit of contagion America has become.
  2. If you have an estimate, when do you expect we’ll have a vaccine or a cure? MSN published an article that stated: “Dr. Emily Erbelding, an infectious disease expert at NIAID — which is part of the National Institutes of Health — said the typical vaccine takes between eight and 10 years to develop.” However, Dr. Anthony Fauci has asserted that 12–18 months is the goal for a coronavirus vaccine.
    At the moment, there are no drugs, vaccines, ointments, vitamins, pills or anything that is effective. My guess is that a vaccine will arrive sometime in 2021. We’re getting pretty good at these things, there is tremendous pressure, and resources are plentiful. But, it’s not something that can be hurried too much. Like speeding up a pregnancy by assigning more women to the project; it doesn’t work that way.
  3. Are you still able to make enough money to support yourself and your family during the lockdown? I think this one is important because if you are, perhaps you can’t fully understand what those who aren’t are going through. And if you aren’t able to make money at this time, that makes me even more intrigued to hear why you support the lockdown.
    I’m doing okay. Most Australians are being looked after with major government spending.
    In America, where you have a lot more poor and homeless people, I’m not seeing much in the way of support for the most vulnerable. If these folk can’t isolate and have to be active in the community to support themselves, then the virus will spread through them, regardless of what everyone else does.
  4. Are you against any reduction of restrictions, or are there some restrictions you think could be lifted while still keeping the shelter-in-place orders? I guess my question is, how much lockdown do you support?
    America is the world’s hotbed of contagion right now. Do what China did. Solid lockdown, heavy fines or jail terms for people breaking the rules. Beef it up. Until there’s a vaccine, physical measures are the only things that work. Get rid of them, you might as well just start digging mass graves.
  5. Do you think we should lock down every time a disease hits us? What about the flu? Or do you have a certain level of infectiousness and deadliness that you think warrants a lockdown?
    This disease is extraordinary. There’s no vaccine like we have for the annual flu season, no “herd immunity”, it’s highly contagious through normal contact, and it kills. Ignore it, it goes exponential, millions die. That doesn’t happen for anything else. This is a Spanish Influenza/Black Death pandemic, and it will go into the history books in a way that the regular flu doesn’t. The fact that pretty much every nation on earth has taken extraordinary measures underscores the seriousness.
  6. How important to you are the effects of the lockdown — unemployment, poverty, starvation, suicide, increases in governmental power, if you think that is an issue — compared to the effects of the virus? Do you consider them almost worse than the virus but not quite, or not at all comparable?
    Ignore the disease, it goes exponential, the medical services are overwhelmed and people start dying of causes that are normally easily treatable because they can’t get attention. What nation can afford to lose a tenth of their population just to keep the shops open? Doesn’t matter what the government orders; you get to a certain level, people are just going to isolate because they can see the bodies piling up in the streets. Extraordinary measures are commonplace during natural disasters. People routinely comply with evacuation orders and workplace closures. It shouldn’t be a big deal. The real problem is supporting everyone affected.
  7. How far do you think people’s freedom to make their own decisions goes? Presumably, if you support the lockdown you think freedom can be limited at times. How far would you be willing to take that? Do you have a hard limit or is it situational?
    If people are informed about the nature of a threat, they are usually pretty good at finding an appropriate response. But given the fake news and rumours going around in America, it’s anybody’s guess what people will do. Get enough people thinking it’s not a problem, ignoring the danger, the virus doesn’t go away because it keeps getting spread by these folk. China quickly worked out how to handle it. Two months of solid lockdown, high levels of testing, exhaustive contact tracing. These aren’t things that people can do by themselves; it needs community management.
    In America, geez. The contradictory messages coming out of your various governments are creating chaos. Here’s a
    good summary.
  8. What do you think the primary role of government is? Protecting liberty? Creating a good society? How much power are you willing to give the government to fulfill whatever goal you think it should have?
    The primary purpose of democratic government is to protect the citizens. America spends vast amounts on defence, so one would imagine that question is already answered.
  9. How much do you trust the government? Federal, state and local. Do you believe your representatives and unelected officials are truly acting on the best data for the common good? Or do you have any doubts about them being uninformed, having ulterior motives, or anything like that?
    In Australia, we trust our governments. It’s a rare natural disaster that goes unmanaged and kills more than a handful of people. We dealt with firearm violence, cracking down good and hard after the Port Arthur thing in 1996. Sure, politicians can be lying, corrupt, self-serving, but we have enough democracy to keep the bastards honest. Everyone votes, every three years.
  10. What do you think of this statement? Without a vaccine or cure, and because locking down forever would create worse problems than the virus, everyone is eventually going to be infected. Because of that, we should limit the damage both virus and lockdown does by quarantining the most vulnerable and letting those who want get back to work.
    It won’t work. You need 90% of the population in isolation to prevent the spread. Anything less and it just keeps on going. If you drop below 70% isolating, the thing takes off and goes exponential and you get the problems anyway.
    Either accept tens of thousands dying every month until a virus arrives next year, or crack down hard, keep everyone contained, and get the thing over with. Half-hearted measures are the worst possible response.

Bottom line: America failed to deal with the thing, even though China had demonstrated successful containment measures. Now many other nations have got the virus under control with minimal ongoing deaths and infections, but America is losing over a thousand citizens a day. Easing restrictions now is pretty much mass murder. You know what to do, you have the best medical scientists, the deepest pockets in the world, why the hell is this such a massive problem?


Britni Pepper has always enjoyed telling stories. About people, places and pleasures.

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