JIM SHARPE

A reluctant yes to masks; a firm no on COVID-19 lockdowns

Oct 12, 2020, 12:15 PM
(Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)...
(Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
(Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

The news this weekend has me a little coronavirus confused.

After being open for only a week, San Tan Foothills High School, in the southeast Valley, was shut down by the Pinal County Health Department. A cluster of COVID cases has led to a (*ahem*) cluster for the parents hoping their kids could stay in school — and they at work.

Here’s where my confusion came in: Just before this closure was announced, I read an article from The Atlantic entitled “Schools Aren’t Super Spreaders,” written by Brown University economist Emily Oster.

After she and data scientists collected COVID-19 school statistics on almost 200,000 students in 47 different states, they found the infection rate among students was 0.13% and 0.24% among staff.

She admits that we are going to see cases at school because, “even if there were no spread in schools, we’d see some cases, because students and teachers can contract the disease off-campus.”

But she concludes that the predictions about school openings hurting their broader communities seem to have been overblown.

Now, a couple of other items that would appear to create coronavirus confusion — but upon closer examination, are coronavirus copacetic.

The World Health Organization seemed to coronavirus contradicted themselves when announcing this weekend that world leaders should stop using lockdowns as their primary COVID-control method.

In fact, the WHO’s Dr. David Nabarro says lockdowns have one certain consequence: They make poor people a whole lot poorer.

And a growing number of health experts from all over the world have added their names to a petition that says lockdowns actually do “irreparable damage” and have “devastating effects on short and long-term public health.”

So, government exercising its greatest control in order to control coronavirus is actually counterproductive?

Confusing.

But whatever you do, don’t confuse lockdowns with mask mandates. While any mandate is government control, a new CDC report says the much-less onerous mask mandates may have helped contribute to a 75% reduction in cases in Arizona.

I hate the government telling me what I have to do — almost as much as I hate wearing a mask. But if wearing a mask means my kids can stay in school, I will keep wearing a mask — something I was doing before it was a requirement (and maybe why I don’t feel so defiant about it).

But if the government demands another lockdown, you’ll find me at one of those anti-lockdown protests in front of the state Capitol. Because lockdowns appear to be deadlier than the disease.

I just have to do my protest chanting a little louder — because it’ll be from behind my mask.

Jim Sharpe

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A reluctant yes to masks; a firm no on COVID-19 lockdowns