Coronavirus lessons on density, mass transit, bureaucracy and censorship: They kill.
But there are some things that are becoming reasonably clear. Following are a few coronavirus lessons, useful now and in preparing for future events.
►Density kills. The coronavirus has been much more deadly in places like New York City or Boston than in rural settings.
►Mass Transit kills. Kotkin mentions mass transit, and an MIT study found that NYC subways were a "major disseminator" of the coronavirus in New York.
Those two are pretty obvious. More people equals more and faster infections. Jamming people together in un-washed train cars equals perfect petri dish for any disease.
This next one though, this is the thing I've been screaming about for probably 30 years now.
►Bureaucracy kills. Much of the fight against the coronavirus has also involved a fight against bureaucrats dead set on making things worse. Early on, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declared COVID-19 a public health emergency, which raised the bar for testing requirements. As a result, hospitals and universities faced significant barriers to getting alternative tests approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Worse yet, the CDC tests turned out to be defective. As James R. Copland writes, this wasn't political interference, but the work of professional bureaucrats: "The botched regulatory response in the United States owed little to the choices of political actors. The individuals running the FDA and CDC are experts in their field, not hacks." Even distilleries that wanted to switch to making hand sanitizer, to alleviate deadly shortages in health care facilities and other institutions, were slowed by the FDA. Fixing things has required a lot of regulations to be overturned or suspended; hopefully we'll think long and hard before reinstating them after the crisis is over.
Yes. Finally. And irony of all ironies, it is printed in USA Today, the paper of Big Government Socialism.
►Censorship kills. The Chinese government censored reports of the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak, punished doctors who talked about it and lied to the world for weeks — while allowing flights from the infected area to carry people from Wuhan all over the world.