Risk mitigation .. why not just give up?

Let me first stipulate that I think the governor of TX is a moron. But without getting political… If I were a governor, or President, I would be sorely tempted to just throw in the towel. To make an address to the people and say: “We give up. The vaccine is out there. For those of you who are responsible adults and believe in science and making sacrifices for the common good – please get vaccinated, and wear a mask and socially distance until then. For the rest of you…it’s your funeral. Take your chances on dodging the virus until herd immunity kicks in.”

And then lift all restrictions and mandates.

Tell me why I’d be wrong.

Simple; because people respond to government mandates. If the president or the governor or the mayor tells them to wear masks, enforce social distancing and do the other things, some (most?) people will do those things. If there is no direction given, people won’t do that stuff.

Stupid people risk the lives of others and increase the amount of time it takes to hit that herd immunity threshold.

But if only stupid people go to the bars or the beach, they’re only risking the lives of each other.

The obvious reason is that we still have to expend limited medical care resources on the stupid, and one of the functional definitions of a pandemic is that its scope threatens to overwhelm available medical response.

Are we planning on telling COVID sufferers “sucks to be you, recover or die in the privacy of your home”? Even the ones who took every reasonable precaution and still got sick, probably because of the greater prevalence of walking plague-bombs ignoring good sense?

Stupid people have innocent family and friends and co-workers.

I had thought of that. But at the moment we’re under 1000 deaths/day and dropping (compared to 4000 in January). I would think (guessing, of course) that the medical infrastructure could deal with this level.

Who are wearing masks and getting vaccinated.

Masks generally prevent the spread to someone else, not preventing you from getting sick. So unless you’re wearing masks designed to prevent inhalation exposure of the wearer, your mask isn’t necessarily a factor in your health.

Vaccines do limit risk to the vaccinated, but it will never be 100% effective. So the higher the number of exposed people the more vaccinated people will get sick.

Hmm. This is a valid point. My “t’hell with it” policy would be most effective only if the smart people go into lockdown until they’re vaccinated.

Put it that way and it’s not much different than “Screw it, laws against drunk driving are off the books, you smart people who care about your lives stay off the streets and sidewalks and anywhere a car could go.”

Except that drunk driving is statistically less dangerous.

How does that work with the families of the stupid? I don’t think there are many out there saying “My spouse and kids will get vaccinated and go into lockdown, but I refuse!”.

I think the drunk driver analogy has worked well since day one.

Even if the rest of us have air bags and no end of passive safety features, and are highly trained and highly skilled drivers, the drunk still poses a non-trivial risk that – at least in theory – should be relatively easy to reduce or eliminate.

At this stage in the pandemic, the drunk driver analogy would need to be amended to say that the supply of alcohol was finite, and would complete dry up in 2 months. And that the economy depends on drunk drivers until then.

I’m not sure I’d be comfortable accepting those amendments yet:

  • Reportedly, some half of Republicans say they won’t get vaccinated
  • The longevity of the conferred immunity isn’t established yet (which could ‘only’ mean we need periodic boosters, or it could mean a gap in immunity that spikes infection rates for a period of time)
  • We still don’t know much about variants or the immunity that prior infection or vaccination confer to those variants.

So I think this thing will be pretty right-skewed with a long tail on it … personally.

I think keeping drunk-drivers off the road is pretty important for the foreseeable future.

The neutral term “medical infrastructure” makes it sound like hospitals and intensive care units (ICU) are just big boxes where automatons roll sick people in one end and get a corpse or recovered(?) patient out the other. The reality is that first responders and medical workers have worked tirelessly under onerous conditions including a grievous lack of protective equipment and pharmaceutical supplies to try to cope with the successive waves of severely ill people, most of which could have been prevented had public officials of all political stripes been unified in promoting protective and isolation measures. Aside from some clapping and banging of pans, there has been little offered to these workers (and other ‘essential workers’) in terms of support or treatment for the emotional trauma and exhaustions that they have and continue to experience, and of course the risks they continue to be exposed to even post-vaccination.

So, setting aside risks as a whole, which include the proliferation of variants, the effects of “Long COVID” sequelae, and impacts upon an economy that regardless of political beliefs will not return to anything like normal until contagious spread is under control, just protecting and respecting the people who are treating the illness and otherwise providing for essential needs requires doing everything possible to limit spread and encourage responsible behavior. That some people are dumb motherfuckers who believe without evidence that they are somehow uniquely invulnerable to infection and spread is not a reason to stop promoting and expecting responsibility from society as a whole. Or, we can just hand out military surplus assault rifles and ammo to the entire population with the direction to “Kill everyone and let God sort it out,” which would seem to be the logical extension to the philosophy expounded by certain ‘leaders’.


Every person who gets infected provides another opportunity for the virus to mutate, potentially into a variant that current vaccines are not effective against. So these unvaccinated stupid people are risking their lives, the lives of immuno-compromised people who cannot be vaccinated, and even the lives of those people who have been vaccinated.

I have a better, albeit modest, proposal to achieve the same segregation.

How about instead the stupid people be put in lock up?

As in tent camps in the desert surrounded by barbed wire & military. If they’re so confident COVID isn’t a threat, they shouldn’t much mind being in close quarters with millions of fellow disbelievers.

I love this idea! Except that I’m not sure there are enough smart people to keep the economy running.

In the OP I asked to be convinced, and I think that mission is accomplished. And just to be clear, this is really just a mental exercise (ie, sophistry)…I don’t really think we should abandon reason and open the gates.

Plus, of course, supplies of vaccine are still limited, and so there are still plenty of folks out there who fully want and intend to be vaccinated, but who haven’t had the chance yet. Maybe we can start talking about lifting restrictions once everyone who wants the vaccine has gotten it, but we’re not there yet.