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No reason to reimpose harmful restrictions

Oh, no! Delta variant! Case counts going way up! Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! One big Louisiana city already looks ready to hit the panic button, so should the state follow as after a subdued period the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic starts to boil higher again?

Absolutely not. By no means should the state or its subgovernments begin to reimpose restrictions that weren’t that effective anyway and probably cost more lives than they saved.

Predictably, case surges have started in areas with lower rates of vaccination. In fact, a high cluster of these exists in the center of the country running north-south from Missouri through Arkansas and swelling into Louisiana. This comes largely courtesy of the rising virus delta variant now becoming more prominent, which does appear more transmissible and does a bit better job of defeating vaccines.

Not that Louisiana hasn’t tried to cajole citizens into becoming vaccinated, which does a great job of knocking down the transmission rate. It expends taxpayer dollars on lotteries, booze, and other emoluments to jack up getting stuck.

Still, the facts remain the same: (1) vaccines work at a very high rate, (2) anybody under 70 and/or without any co-morbidity conditions is very unlikely to require hospitalization over the virus and highly unlikely to die from it, (3) it is difficult to catch it indoors and almost impossible to do so outdoors, and (4) the fatality rates (case or infection) for this virus don’t differ much from influenza, just that the distribution demographically isn’t nearly as uniform. Add to that pretty much any Louisianan who wants to get vaccinated can, for free.

So, you’re not looking at a population living in fear of no protection against a microscopic (if not man-made) foe. Just about anybody who sustains that kind of fear can receive a highly-effective prophylactic, and if they haven’t done so, that’s on them. Those who weigh the expected consequences of getting it and find these less costly than expected drawbacks of receiving vaccination don’t have to, and haven’t.

Government restrictions of the kind the state labored under for months – which in all likelihood ended up prolonging the crisis – contribute nothing. These will do next to nothing to reduce the risk of the vaccinated contracting a breakthrough case, and they offend against the autonomy of individuals who have chosen for whatever reason not to get vaccinated.

Thus, the best strategy is the one that the state should have pursued from the start and currently follows: protect with restrictions the relatively few environments containing people unusually vulnerable to the virus, such as health care facilities, but otherwise leave it up to individuals to choose on their own how to respond. If you’ve been vaccinated and still live in fear of the virus, wear a face covering, don’t go out much, wash your hands frequently and sanitize objects (which is sage advice to reduce exposure to all sorts of diseases), etc. If you haven’t been and don’t want to catch it, do the same. Whether you have been and you don’t want to go to the trouble of following these protocols, it’s up to you, freely deciding knowing the costs and benefits involved.

What little philosophical justification government had to impose restrictions without a vaccine has disappeared completely with essentially universal vaccination in place. Those who want protection voluntarily can do what it takes to acquire it, and as for everybody else, you’re on your own. There’s no case for government meddling in people’s affairs in this environment by reimposing restrictions, and any willingness to do so shows more commitment to a totalitarian mindset of command and control of people’s lives than in respecting the lives and dignity of free human beings. Louisiana and America are not Cuba.

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