AIER: The 2006 Origins of the Lockdown Idea

Link to source.

The writer outlines the history of the technical concept of social distancing as a response to epidemic and finds that it is a very recent — and originally controversial — innovation.

The story solves a puzzle I had been wondering about. Like others my age I have lived through a couple of epidemics and certainly learned about others, but I had never heard of closing schools and businesses until Covid-19 came along. I wondered where the concept of lockdown as public policy came from.

That the concept originated in the pandemic planning of the late Bush administration doesn’t inspire confidence. That the underlying principle is little more than an ad hoc hypothesis — children interact with large numbers of people on a daily basis — will be a source of lessons learned for years to come.

Chief among them I think will be that in matters of public policy there is no such thing as a free lunch. If you want to preserve both liberty and public health during an epidemic there is no alternative to the expense of having adequate quarantine facilities for the sick.

5 thoughts on “AIER: The 2006 Origins of the Lockdown Idea

  1. Wait until the vaccine finally gets here. You’ll see some Liberty v. Public Health battles as the anti-vaxxers rise up.

    Even now, there are enough incidents of retail clerks getting threatened because they try to enforce just a face mask on customers.

    “ Let the pandemic spread, treat people who get sick and work quickly to develop a vaccine to prevent it from coming back.”

    Well, effectively that is what is happening. Would it have been worse with no lockdown?

    Two elements the author seems to sidestep are the lethality and the latency of this virus compared to other similar diseases.

    From the first few cases late January and early February, about 3 months or so, we have gone from 20 to 1.5 million with 90,000+ deaths.

    The Swine Flu killed 12,000 or so over a year or more.

    Plus another couple of elements for consideration is that we had a vaccine for most seasonal flu cases and we had a moderately effective treatment in Tamiflu. We have nothing now.

    The jammed hospitals, overworked frontline folks, death by several different means from the same bug (respiratory, clotting, strokes), mass burials show that this ain’t your father’s virus.

    Yes, economic damage is very important. But we can recover economically. The dead, not so much.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “The Swine Flu killed 12,000 or so over a year or more.” But the Obama response was such an unmitigated disaster (insert sarcasm emoji here.). A 750% increase in deaths in one quarter the time and Obama was a disaster? What does that make Trump?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Taken from within the article, this conclusion from “Disease Mitigation Measures in the Control of Pandemic Influenza. ” “Experience has shown that communities faced with epidemics or other adverse events respond best and with the least anxiety when the normal social functioning of the community is least disrupted. Strong political and public health leadership to provide reassurance and to ensure that needed medical care services are provided are critical elements. If either is seen to be less than optimal, a manageable epidemic could move toward catastrophe.”

    What has been missing is “strong political leadership from our President. It has hard to take solace from someone who has lied to the American people aver 16,000 times in the past three plus years. There is no leadership when he spends most of his time trying to find a scapegoat or someone to blame instead of working with medical AND economic professionals to “ensure that needed medical care services are provided” and that economic balance is found without killing off 100,000 or more people.

    Seeing as that is the case we are moving toward a catastrophe. And it is that poor leadership leading the parade.


  4. “… ensure that needed medical care services are provided”.

    That is a key ingredient and the primary reason for the lockdown.

    COVID19 is so contagious for so long plus lethal, that absent the “brakes” of a lockdown, the effect of no way to care for the huge numbers would have resulted in a social breakdown.

    Either way, our economy would take a catastrophic hit, but the “no lockdown option” might very well have resulted in real insurrection activity.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Uh, did the author bother to read about St. Louis in 1918 or the polio quarantines in the 1950s? Hell, even in the dark ages they hung signs to warn people away.

    On Old Dominion U’s campus there is an oyster shell path found while building something. The path was Quarantine Road. It led from the harbor in the Elizabeth River to housing for sailors arriving on ships with outbreaks.

    Liked by 1 person

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