Why You Should NOT Stay Home

Go to the beaches… Mingle with friends… Get back to work. In the long run, this is best for everyone.

If you’re like me, you’re going on Facebook and seeing a lot of people urging others to stay home. Some posts are quite angry. There is a growing fury against the protestors who want to re-open the economy.

The gist of these posts is that if you don’t believe the lockdown is a good idea, you are immoral and do not value life.

Here’s a post suggesting that people who believe the lockdown should end shouldn’t have a right to healthcare if they get sick:

I want to address that idea with this post.

And I am directly speaking to those who feel compelled to admonish people to stay home.

First, my personal belief:

I am convinced that we should end the lockdowns immediately… that people should not stay home. In fact, it is a moral imperative that most of us get back to work immediately.

I ask that you read the following with an open mind. If you truly believe that we should all stay home as long as it takes, and you are committed to that, I ask you to read my message in full and refute it with facts and data.

Don’t be lazy.

Don’t skim it because you already have your mind made up.

Do not scold me or state that I don’t care about people or life.

Listen to the message and understand my beliefs. Then attack them as you wish in a respectful manner.

So let’s begin…

First, I want to address the idea that if we all just stay home “a little bit longer” that this will save lives.

Big Coronavirus Myth #1: If We All Stay at Home, This Disease Will Go Away in Under a Year

I call this the “Big Coronavirus Myth #1.”

It’s essentially the idea that if we all band together and stay home long enough, the coronavirus will eventually be wiped out and it will go away.

The posts about this go something along the lines of:

“Hey assholes, if you would just stay home, the cases and deaths would go down and this would end faster.”

Then you get a picture of a bunch of people together on a beach not practicing social distancing.

Like this one wishing death on the beach goers in Florida:

If it were true that social distancing would make the disease go away, then I’d be in agreement.

But the problem is, this is simply not true.

The fact is, unless you COMPLETELY wipe out a disease in full, it will come back if it still is active in a population of people who haven’t previously been infected and don’t have immunities.

As Dr. Michael T. Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease at the University of Minnesota points out…

“Covid-19 will go away eventually in one of two ways. Either we will develop a vaccine to prevent it, or the virus will burn itself out as the spread of infection comes to confer a form of herd immunity on the population.”

Why is this true?

Because if even 20 people are missed and still infectious when the lockdowns end, then the exponential growth will start all over again. It would be like restarting back in January when all this began.

Those 20 people will jump to 40… then 80… then 160… and so on until we are right back to where we were.

As long as you have a substantial population of people who have never been infected, the virus will continue to spread.

This is a fact.

It is not arguable.

As Justin Lessler from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health says:

It is likely that eventually it will become endemic, and most of us will get infected.

He estimates 60%-70% of people will get it, but he says it could happen over a few months or as long as three years.

So that’s key for people to understand now.

The two choices are “get herd immunity as fast as possible. Or keep the lockdowns going for 12-18 months until a vaccine is available.” (Keeping in mind that vaccines do not necessarily cure the disease which is why flu kills hundreds of thousands each year)

So if you are getting mad at people for not staying home now, keep in mind… that means you are advocating that we stay locked down for 12-18 months until the vaccine is out.

I’ll get into why this is devastating in terms of our economy and, yes, people’s lives in a moment.


Big Coronavirus Myth #2: The Hospitals are Overwhelmed Right Now So We Need to Flatten the Curve Immediately

Ok, so that gets me to my second point.

Many argue that YES, we know it won’t stop the disease.

But it will flatten the curve which allows our healthcare system to not get overwhelmed.

An admirable goal, but the problem is, by shutting down the entire country right now… we’re actually not utilizing our healthcare resources anywhere near capacity.

Ideally, if you want to flatten the curve and use hospital resources to their maximum, you actually want to see enough cases in all cities so that hospitals are fully utilized.

We are seeing the opposite of that right now.

Hospital beds are sitting empty.

For example, here in Florida… the number of hospital beds being used is actually dropping!

Here’s a report from the Sun Sentinel about what’s going on across Florida:

“At Broward General, the bed occupancy rate has dropped from last year’s average of 67% to only 55% on Thursday. At Cleveland Clinic in Weston, the bed occupancy has slid from an average last year of 84% to 57%. And at Palm Beach County’s JFK Medical Center, it has dropped drastically from an average of 67% to only 28%, according to data from Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration[TS1] .”

Only a 28% occupancy rate!

That is FAR TOO LOW.

You have to remember, people are going to get this thing regardless.

The only two ways out are herd immunity or a vaccine in 12-18 months.

So unless you believe that we should lock everything down for over a year, (A move that would result in devastating loss of life on its own) then the goal should be to get as many people to the immunity stage as possible now.

And you can’t do that while hospitals are empty, which they are all across the country.

Here’s a recent post from a nurse in LA published in Inside Sources:

“This doesn’t seem to be talked about at all… People are losing their shifts and paychecks and jobs,” the L.A. nurse wrote. “We only had 5 people in the whole ER when they sent me home. My agency sent out an email blast basically saying that there are a lot of people struggling to find shifts[TS2] .”

Or this one from Northern Virginia:

“As far as the amount of actual people in the ER, I don’t know if I’ve ever had a census this low three weeks in a row. Every shift is half empty.”

Or this one from Massachusetts:

“There are fewer people admitted to the hospital right now, so we’re able to move people out of the emergency department and into a bed very quickly if needed.”

This is happening all over the country.

Hospitals are sitting empty getting ready for the “surge.”

But hey, that’s what we’re gearing up for right? We need beds available for when the coronavirus gets out of control.

Unfortunately, the hospitals can’t take the wait.

By shutting down the economy and emptying the hospitals, we are actually bankrupting them.

According to The Wall Street Journal, hospitals are losing money right now at a pace that is unprecedented.

For instance, “St. Claire HealthCare in Kentucky is furloughing a quarter of its staff, and Appalachian Regional Healthcare is closing clinics and outpatient centers.”

In Pennsylvania, hospitals are losing $1.5-$2 BILLION PER MONTH because they are sitting idle[TS3] .

And YES, this is even true in New York:

Eastern Niagara Hospital’s CEO Anne McCaffrey explained last week: “For the last few weeks we’ve had [non-essential] employees not working to their full capacity, many of them not working at all, expecting there would be a need elsewhere in the hospital for them. Currently, we’re not experiencing a surge of Covid-19 patients.”

In short, by locking down the economy early, we’ve flattened the curve so much that we are actually destroying the very hospitals we need for the future.

But wait… I’m sure you are thinking “this is all in the name of saving lives. The hospital system would be so overwhelmed if we opened up the economy that it would be much worse. I’d rather the hospitals sit empty and lose money than be filled with dying coronavirus patients.”

And here’s where I tell you, if we opened up the economy, we would NOT see an overwhelming surge in coronavirus patients.

We would see many more, yes.

But we are talking about thousands not millions.

And here’s why…

Big Coronavirus Myth #3: 2% of People Who Get the Coronavirus Will Die

A growing body of evidence is now showing that MANY MANY times more people have had the coronavirus already than previously thought.

This is very important and it is GOOD NEWS for all of us as I’ll explain in a moment.

But first, the evidence.

As I said, testing is now showing much larger populations of people with antibodies to the virus, indicating that they have already been infected in the past.

For example, in the German town of Gangelt, an immunity study showed that 14% of the townsfolk are now immune to coronavirus[TS4] .

Previously, it was thought that only 1-2% of the town had been infected. And yet, this showed that 14 times that number had already been through it, almost all of them with no symptoms.

And here’s why that is important.

As MIT points out:

“Here’s why the true infection rate in a region matters: the bigger it is, the less pain still lies ahead. Eventually, when enough people are immune—maybe half to three-quarters of us—the virus won’t be able to spread further, a concept called herd immunity.”

So if 14% already have it rather than 1-2%… it means we are far closer to it being over.

And it also means that the virus is FAR LESS DEADLY than previously thought.

Again, from MIT:

“From the result of their blood survey, the German team estimated the death rate in the municipality at 0.37% overall, a figure significantly lower than what’s shown on a dashboard maintained by Johns Hopkins, where the death rate in Germany among reported cases is 2%.”

.37% is vastly different than 2%.

.37% is just slightly worse than a bad flu. 2% is devastating.

And this isn’t just one random study. These numbers are being confirmed in studies all over America.

For instance, a study in Santa Clara found that between 50 and 85 times MORE people have had coronavirus than previously thought[TS5] .

The cases in Santa Clara were thought to be only about 1,000, of which 60 had died. That’s a very scary death rate of 6%.

But this study shows that actually between 48,000 and 81,000 people had it at the time of the study.

As The Los Angeles Times Reports:

“Based on their results, the Stanford researchers estimated the mortality rate in Santa Clara County to be between 0.12% and 0.2%.”

.12% to .2%.

I should remind you, the death rate of the seasonal flu is about .1%.

So this is slightly elevated over that.

And the studies confirming this keep coming in…

The Boston Globe reports that a test of 200 random people walking in Chelsea found that 1/3 had already had coronavirus[TS6] .

One third! That’s almost all the way to herd immunity already!

Yet, it had been thought that only 2% of the community had coronavirus.

Another study by MIT of sewage in Massachusetts found that in an area with only 446 confirmed cases, the true number of cases could be over 100,000[TS7] .

In Boston, a homeless shelter tested every single person staying there. Of the 397 people, a stunning 146 came up positive[TS8] .

According to the shelter “Every one of these folks were asymptomatic. None of them had a fever, and none of them reported symptoms.”

Let me repeat that.

None of them were symptomatic.

That is why this thing is impossible to stop. So many people have it and don’t have symptoms, that the economic lockdown cannot and will not work.

It still will continue spreading, but in slow motion, because so many asymptomatic people still have it.

BUT, at the same time, the disease is so much less deadly than is being reported that if we open up everything, we will get through it much faster and with far less death than we previously were led to believe.

In short, the only reason you should advocate for a lockdown with these death rates is if you believe we should also lock down the entire economy during any bad flu season – a preposterous idea that nobody would want.

Here’s another big study just released from Los Angeles.

This one was done by Neeraj Sood, professor for USC’s Price School for Public Policy.

Again, they randomly tested people in Los Angeles County in an area that had roughly 8,000 reported cases and 500 deaths at the time – a scary death rate of around 6.25%.

But the testing showed that actually anywhere from 221,000 to 442,000 Los Angeles people already had coronavirus.

That brings the death rate down to between .11% and .22%.

Yet again, just slightly more deadly than seasonal flu.

Ok, so let’s recap what we know so far.

We know that this virus spreads easily, especially because so many people who have it don’t have symptoms. We also have a pretty good idea that the death rate is far lower than thought and that so many people have already had it that it’s likely unstoppable.

And yet, we still have a lot of people dying.

We still have doctors and nurses posting stories of seeing people die.

We shouldn’t just give up and let those people die, right?

I don’t believe we should. And in fact, I believe there is a way to limit the deaths while also not destroying the world economy.

We know for a fact that a very specific subset of the population is vulnerable to Covid-19 while almost all others are fine.

USA today reports that 86% of the people who died from this in New York had chronic disease[TS9] .

In Italy, Bloomberg reports that as many as 99% of deaths were people who had another illness[TS10] .

And the BBC says that in the UK 90% of those who are dying are people with chronic disease[TS11] .

In short, if we can limit the exposure to these people, we can minimize the deaths.

So here’s how we do that.

First, we quarantine people with chronic diseases. As a nation we put all our resources toward doing that effectively. We help these people with paying bills. We get them food. We gear all of our resources toward protecting them rather than shutting down everything.

At the same time, we fully open the economy for healthy people, especially those under 50.

Since we know that this can only end with herd immunity or a vaccine (which is more than a year away), opening up the economy fully to healthy young people will ensure we achieve herd immunity the fastest, especially when you consider the studies that show 50 times as many people have this as was previously thought.

Those studies prove that it will move fast and relatively safely through healthy populations.

This is key.

And in the end, the faster we reach herd immunity, the faster those vulnerable populations end up safer.

Because there will be fewer carriers who can pass it along to them once we burn the disease out by not having enough hosts for it.

As it is now, we are prolonging the infectious period where the virus is out there because right now, it is simply moving slowly through the population.

If we keep the lockdown going, it will make this dangerous period last far longer than it needs to.

It will also leave our hospitals sitting empty and potentially bankrupt, which leaves us less able to handle the patients when they actually come in.

AND, and this is where it truly does get scary, in the meantime, we will do irreversible damage to people’s lives and the economy.

Big Coronavirus Myth #4: We are Only Talking About Losing Money Rather Than People’s Lives

And by “economy,” I don’t just mean money.

There is a lot at stake.

Let’s start with the loss of life, since it is what’s most important.

We know for a fact that global poverty is closely tied to economic strength. And we also know that poverty leads to death, especially for children.

This is not just an idea.

A UN report just came out indicating that “hundreds of thousands of children” will die just this year alone due to the economic shutdown[TS12] .

Likewise Professor François Balloux, chair in computational biology at University College, London recently stated that the economic shutdown could kill more people than coronavirus itself.

“If you trash the economy you trash the health system and education – and if you trash the health system and education you trash life expectancy,” he said.[1]

Those are real consequences you cannot and should not ignore.

Even if you hate Trump and think he only cares about money, you need to recognize that keeping the economy shutdown will lead to death. A LOT of it.

And that’s not even the half of the consequences coming if we continue this economic shutdown.

According to The Wall Street Journal, as defaults come in and companies go out of business, we will see a new debt crisis that will lead to disaster for some of the biggest employers in the world.

And as “they fall into default, the losses hit pensions, insurers, and scores of mutual funds and hedge funds[TS13] .”

These are the financial instruments retirees depend on to live. And they could be in big trouble.

At the same time, we could see a new housing crisis caused by defaults on mortgage debt.

The New York Times reports that a full 40% of tenants already are not paying rent as of March 31[TS14] .

Politico reports that the mortgage system could collapse if the Fed doesn’t step in.

But even then, it’s doubtful that Fed relief will keep the crisis at bay for long.

From Politico:

“Usually, a mortgage company can withstand a few borrowers failing to make payments, but the breadth of the coronavirus pandemic has sparked industry estimates of between 25 and 50 percent of borrowers being unable to pay.”

That’s devastating, people.

Of course, there are unemployment benefits to consider.

That will keep people from defaulting, right?

Well, for a short time yes.

But nowhere near long enough to get to a vaccine in over a year.

According to NBC News, nearly half of states don’t have the funds to pay unemployment benefits[TS15] .

Howard Gleckman, Senior Fellow at the Tax Policy Center had this to say:

“We’re talking about 10 million people filing for unemployment insurance in two weeks. Nobody is prepared for that,” he said. “That’s unprecedented.”

10 million?

I wish it was only 10 million.

As CNBC reports, the Fed is now looking at potentially 47 million job losses and 32% unemployment[TS16] .

Keep in mind, the highest rate of unemployment in the United States EVER was 24.9% in 1933.

32% is catastrophic.

It will be so destructive on all Americans… and everyone across the globe.

We’re talking about major increases of all the diseases of despair… depression, alcohol use, homelessness, suicide, drug abuse, and yes poor health that leads to death.

Even the ultra-left Mother Jones has called the mental health crisis coming out of this a “slow motion disaster[TS17] .”

So here’s what I ask of all of you…

Knowing all of this…

Knowing that half the population will come in contact with coronavirus either sooner or later…

Knowing that the disease is likely far less deadly and far more widespread (meaning we can get to herd immunity faster)…

Knowing that our hospitals are actually sitting empty and potentially going bankrupt across the country now…

Knowing that the economic collapse ahead will lead to hundreds of thousands of deaths of children, millions out of work, homes lost, mental health destroyed…

Knowing all of that…

Can you not agree that we should end the lockdown now for all healthy people?

Can you not agree that we should quarantine only those most vulnerable and ensure everyone else gets back to work so we save our livelihoods?

Can you not agree that the protestors might just have a point that makes sense?

Again, if you disagree that is fine.

But please refute some of the facts respectfully. I’m happy to listen.

Alternatively, if you understand why I feel the way I do about re-opening the economy… please give myself and others that feel this way a bit more respect.

Stop with the shaming and scolding that people like me “don’t care about life.”

We all want what is best for people. It’s not that we are pissed our lives are inconvenienced. I am genuinely concerned that the economic and life destroying devastation from this will have been for nothing. And it will lead to far more destruction than the alternative path I’ve laid out.

I ask that you join me in fighting for the economy to be fully re-opened for people who are not at risk while we quarantine those who are vulnerable.

Let’s do this together and end this situation as soon as possible.

Todd Skousen is a Senior Writer and Member of the Executive Team of The Oxford Club, one of the longest running financial clubs in the country. He’s written over the past decade about a wide range of subjects including biotechnology, technological advancements, and macroeconomics. He cares deeply about the lives and livelihoods of all people.




















[1] Economic shutdown could kill more than coronavirus, experts warn

66 replies added

  1. Bob R. April 23, 2020 Reply

    a very well laid out read. I did find a few items that I think were off the mark:.
    1. He talks about “only two ways to end this” Says who, there are always multiple options in between the extremes. Not a fan of someone stating two self imposed extremes as if they was no middle ground.
    2. He talked about empty hospital beds, but failed to mention that most hospitals have declined any non-emergency procedures to keep beds open for the Covid patients.
    3. By stating how many people have been tested positive, one could build a argument that we have been indeed keeping the hospitals from being overburden while on the way to creating a herd immunity .

    • Paco April 26, 2020 Reply

      Bob R.,
      To your third point, an argument could also be made that all of this quarantining has done absolutely nothing because people who think they’ve been staying safe, likely already have had it. Also, being tested positive for having had it, doesn’t mean any of them are still contagious. So really it could be argued just as easily that they are accomplishing nothing by staying quarantined and not affecting hospital burdens at all.

    • Todd Skousen April 27, 2020 Reply

      Hi Bob, thank you for the feedback. I agree with you that I could have included more than a binary option for solutions. For example, one thing I didn’t discuss was the possibility of a treatment itself for the disease, rather than a vaccine. That could end things a lot faster as well if people weren’t dying. However, I find that exceedingly unlikely for the same reason that the vaccine will take quite a bit of time. Treatments require extensive testing to be proven effective and its take years upon years for effective treatments to be developed for other deadly viruses.

      As for the hospital question, I see your point. But clearing out the hospitals in anticipation of a future Covid outbreak has consequences too. This Washington Post article talks about some of them:


      When people put off needed medical treatment to make way for the surge, it could also lead to a lot of negative outcomes.

      All in all, I appreciate the response and wish you the best.

      • Geralyn Jennette May 3, 2020 Reply

        Thank you for this article, Todd. I am replying to your point and Bob’s point that hospitals have turned down patients to keep beds open. I could be a potential statistic of that decision. I had a breast biopsy scheduled for mid-April, one month after my surgeon told me that 80% of the time results would be benign “but you don’t want to wait 3 months to find out there was a problem and now it’s worse.” It will probably be 3 months before the procedure, OUTPATIENT mind you, is rescheduled. That is wrong and that is not healthcare.

    • Beth M April 29, 2020 Reply

      Well said!! Governors should lead their states with insight and forethought, not control people with fear. I honestly feel the country should get back to business. Thank you.

  2. John Matlick April 23, 2020 Reply

    I am in complete agreement. Thank you.
    I respectfully submit that those who think we are jerks or worse will not be moved by common sense arguments.
    My quick story is, for the first time in a very long life I participated in a protest in uber liberal Washington State. I did this because I knew it was a moral certainty that I needed to stand up against economic catastrophe and government intrusion. I found 5,000 people doing the same thing. These were not people most of us are privileged to rub shoulders with. These were people who didn’t aspire to be Doctors, Teachers, Writers or Politicians. They just wanted to to live their lives as they wanted. Now they want their jobs back and to take care of their children, pay their rent, go fishing, take a vacation and have friends and family over for a potluck or barbecue. They get it. They don’t need to hear the argument against economic shutdown from you or me. They are living it. They all stood up for what you and I are arguing we all should do without hearing the argument. Just because it is the right thing to do. They’re fine with everyone believing as they might. Just let them live their lives.
    Mr. Skousen please think about these people. Determine how to reach them on their level. They are the ones that can help turn this government takeover around and make a difference. Just by going to work every day. We have forgotten about these people. The only “friends” who they think can help are politicians. Unfortunate for us all.
    Please think about this.

    John Matlick

  3. Patrick D Grengs II April 23, 2020 Reply

    Thanks for dispelling so many of the myths. I think that we are on the same page. I have been saying for several weeks “Nearly everyone is eventually going to be exposed to C19 and will contract it. The level of concern should be inversely proportional to the health of an individual’s immune system.” As such, each person should be taking their life, as well as their close associates, in mind in terms of their behavior. Isolation should be voluntary. I believe that the nit-wit calling for mass-graves in Florida might actually be spouting from a core of envy and resentment — envy that there are other individuals that are very healthy and will have a low likelihood to have any ill-effects from C19 exposure; and resentment that these healthy people are able to see the mathematics and economics of individual sovereignty very clearly. The economic fallout from the C19 imposed lock-downs will have far more damaging consequences to individual health than the actual C19 infections. It will be interesting to see how the MSM spins this fallout in the year ahead.

  4. Roger S. April 24, 2020 Reply

    You make some great points, which I largely agree with. Before I go out in public, I would like to see more results from antibody testing to see if there are similar results around the country. You could also mention the unconstitutional actions taken by politicians that most people dismiss because they have the same opinion. Our leaders are treating this like a dictatorship with no regard for the laws they swore to uphold and the money printing to support this will do more damage than all the other problems combined! We are seeing a rapid increase of central planning and most citizens just weigh in on how they would run things if they were in charge. Sadly socialism / Fascism isn’t far from here.

  5. EvF April 24, 2020 Reply

    With respect, the location of the homeless shelter cited in the article is incorrect. The shelter is right in Boston, not Worcester as mentioned.

  6. Gabriel April 24, 2020 Reply

    1. “If we stay at home, this disease will go away in under a year.” He admits in so many words at the beginning of his next point that this is not actually what the lockdowns are about. At most, this is a garbled idea that uninformed people have been spreading; though I can’t actually think of anybody I’ve seen spreading it. Insofar as it’s a misconception it is worth clearing up, but that is *in no way* an argument for ending quarantines or for attempting “herd immunity.”

    Nor is the fact that most people will eventually be exposed to the virus a serious argument for his position, because — again, *as he admits* — the point is making sure that we have time to develop a vaccine and other treatments, manufacture more ventilators and other medical supplies (an essential service that as far as I know has not been shut down), and ensure that hospitals have the capacity to treat people. The claim that the virus will spread as long as there is an uninfected population is *probably* true, though (for all this “this is a fact” rhetoric) we in fact can certainly point to diseases that have been effectively eliminated; but it simply isn’t the case that this would ever put us back where we are right now, as long as the intervening time in quarantine is spent working on vaccines and so forth — it would, rather, put us in a world where a small population was vulnerable and we had plenty of resources to address that fact.

    2. “Hospitals are overwhelmed so we need to flatten the curve.” Again, this is a specious reading of what’s actually being said, at least by all the medical professionals and journalists I personally have come across. The quarantines were established to *prevent* hospitals from getting overwhelmed, not because they were overwhelmed already; and that concern was not mere panic, because we already had the example of several other countries to see what happens when lockdowns aren’t instituted at all or are put in force late in the game, like China and Italy. Personally I do not agree that 28% occupancy in a hospital is “FAR TOO LOW.” People either not getting sick or getting sick at a very manageable rate is literally the point of a quarantine; more is not better when the more is “people with a life-threatening and highly contagious disease.”

    What he then moves into (and which addresses his concerns in 4 as well) — that this results in shifts being cut, paychecks suffering, etc. — is not a problem with hospitals, or with pandemics, or with quarantines. *It’s a problem with capitalism.* It is capitalism that operates on a baseline assumption that people cannot and must not be paid unless they are doing work (and defines work in primarily commercial terms); it is capitalism which assigns human work value but treats human life as having no intrinsic value. Capitalism therefore not only preys on the disabled, the elderly, stay-at-home mothers, and other people for whom this kind of work is impossible or undesirable, but is constitutionally incapable of facing circumstances like this in which a huge proportion of the population can’t or shouldn’t work outside the home.

    Because you know who could make up for all these missed paychecks without even noticing, if we were willing to tax their excess wealth and redistribute it to people who actually need it (since they’re clearly not choosing philanthropy at the moment)? Billionaires. The only reason we revolt at the idea of taking away *some* of the money that a tiny handful of people could never possibly use, and instead keeping human beings alive and fed with it, is because we’re raised in a system that treats profits as more sacrosanct than human life. “The economy” is not a magical force that operates according to mystical laws: it is a human system that we design, and we actually can decide to design it differently if that means it will serve human beings better. And the only people that the capitalist system serves well are the rich.

    3. He argues that coronavirus appears to be far less deadly than was originally feared. If so, great! But not only is he *not* a medical expert, what he’s sharing is not the consensus of medical experts. It is a layman’s deduction based on some evidence. That is not valueless, but it is also not a good basis upon which to make medical and political decisions for 300 million people. (The advice he goes on to give about partially opening the economy, citing herd immunity and so forth, also seems to fly in the face of his earlier assertion that the virus will go on infecting people as long as there are any uninfected people, but let’s forget about that.)

    This next bit is an opinion I’m more open to be argued with over. But his notion that we can *just* quarantine people who are particularly vulnerable is, excuse me, ridiculous: in a small or concentrated populace with a strong culture of solidarity and a high tolerance for surveillance, like South Korea, sure, you can do that. Hundreds of millions of Americans diffused over half a continent, who think that doing anything they are told by experts is basically Stalinism, are going to be pigheaded bastards about it and break every rule we can lay our hands on; it’s a miracle we’ve been *this* locked down so far.

    Here’s the thing, though: if it does become the scientific consensus at some later date that coronavirus fatalities are actually quite manageable — which, again, flies in the face of the actual progress of the disease we’ve observed in other countries, but never mind — we can just lift the quarantine early. We don’t have to decide right now and for all time that the quarantine will last for eighteen months.

    • Wayne Weidner April 30, 2020 Reply

      I personally think this shutdown is all part of a coup that is taking place. The banks were already in failure territory when this happened. They knew this, OF COURSE THEY DID! This is a convenient distraction – Pumped up by them by using false data and fear mongering. This is all a plot by the globalists and the Federal Bankers that own our economic system. There will be a reboot that will take place that will take all our freedoms and crush the constitution. (This will take place in the next 2 years). There’s one man that stands between us and them, and that is Donald Trump. Unfortunately the powers to be will rig the election and Trump will lose. That is when the swamp will have full reign over us…. or will they?

    • J. May 24, 2020 Reply

      Thank you, Gabriel, for that well-reasoned response. We need more of that at this time.

  7. Anton Rank April 26, 2020 Reply

    I think this is on point to the way this should be considered!
    There is so much at stake for everyone Person alive and to not take the common sense and use the documented information that could get this country back to its normal level before we loose everything the people in this country has work so hard for..
    Thank you so much posting this!!!

  8. Gwen Drakula April 26, 2020 Reply

    I believe everything in this article
    It’s time to open up this country
    The media has keep people in fear

    • Z May 8, 2020 Reply

      Nearly all of his references are the media, so if they’re “keeping us in fear” then how is this credible?

  9. Ms. JS April 26, 2020 Reply

    The two choices are “get herd immunity as fast as possible. Or keep the lockdowns going for 12-18 months until a vaccine is available.” (Keeping in mind that vaccines do not necessarily cure the disease which is why flu kills hundreds of thousands each year)
    Where is the source for this statement? I searched and found that there are less than 75,000 flu deaths per year; you state hundreds of thousands and there aren’t even a hundred thousand.

  10. Dave Laycock April 27, 2020 Reply

    I really appreciate the thorough manner in which you stated the case for saving populations and economies.
    I am with you in declaring “End the lock down!”

  11. Kenny April 27, 2020 Reply

    Some decent points here, actually. However, there are several points against wish I’d push back. One glaring omission, for instance, is that *even if* the case fatality rate of Covid is only marginally higher than that of the seasonal flu, there is no herd immunity for Covid yet and thus *more people* will get it than get the flu. There are only 9 million or so reported cases of the flu yearly in the United States; Covid will almost certainly surpass that by many times.

    The second point of omission is when it comes to testing. It’s not just a matter of being on lockdown until a vaccine, but of being on lockdown until we are able to test and trace appropriately. That will be the best way to slow down the transmission rate and avoid overburdening the hospitals (a point I’ll address in a moment) while also allowing gradual phases of reopening.

    *In fact*, there is a wide spectrum of possible approaches in between “herd immunity” and “12-18 months lockdown” that haven’t been considered here. For instance, in his critique of an extended lockdown he mentions that even if just 20 Covid cases go undetected then we’ll see exponential growth again. That’s true – *however* if we have appropriate testing and tracing when we reopen, then we’ll be able to isolate those cases more accurately and quickly locate people who may have been exposed before they start showing symptoms. That’s what South Korea did, and it worked magic.

    On the hospitals, yes many are at lower capacities now than the norm. However, there are two issues with his assessment of this issue. First, it’s not merely that hospitals are at low capacity because there aren’t enough Covid cases to fill the beds, but also that 1) many hospitals have voluntarily halted discretionary medical appointments out of caution, and 2) many people are voluntarily avoiding going to the hospitals. Opening the economy back up wouldn’t fix either of those problems for hospitals, and the proposed solution – increasing Covid cases so that hospitals can be more efficiently filled to capacity – is rather tricky because we’d be trying to generate a patient equilibrium with an unpredictable and rather exceptional novel virus. It’s like playing Russian Roulette with the healthcare system.

    Anyway, I’m sure there is more that I could say but consider this my polite, rational disputation.

  12. Kenny R. April 27, 2020 Reply

    Some decent points here, actually. However, there are several points against wish I’d push back. One glaring omission, for instance, is that *even if* the case fatality rate of Covid is only marginally higher than that of the seasonal flu, there is no herd immunity for Covid yet and thus *more people* will get it than get the flu. There are only 9 million or so reported cases of the flu yearly in the United States; Covid will almost certainly surpass that by many times.
    The second point of omission is when it comes to testing. It’s not just a matter of being on lockdown until a vaccine, but of being on lockdown until we are able to test and trace appropriately. That will be the best way to slow down the transmission rate and avoid overburdening the hospitals (a point I’ll address in a moment) while also allowing gradual phases of reopening.
    *In fact*, there is a wide spectrum of possible approaches in between “herd immunity” and “12-18 months lockdown” that haven’t been considered here. For instance, in his critique of an extended lockdown he mentions that even if just 20 Covid cases go undetected then we’ll see exponential growth again. That’s true – *however* if we have appropriate testing and tracing when we reopen, then we’ll be able to isolate those cases more accurately and quickly locate people who may have been exposed before they start showing symptoms. That’s what South Korea did, and it worked magic.
    On the hospitals, yes many are at lower capacities now than the norm. However, there are two issues with his assessment of this issue. First, it’s not merely that hospitals are at low capacity because there aren’t enough Covid cases to fill the beds, but also that 1) many hospitals have voluntarily halted discretionary medical appointments out of caution, and 2) many people are voluntarily avoiding going to the hospitals. Opening the economy back up wouldn’t fix either of those problems for hospitals, and the proposed solution – increasing Covid cases so that hospitals can be more efficiently filled to capacity – is rather tricky because we’d be trying to generate a patient equilibrium with an unpredictable and rather exceptional novel virus. It’s like playing Russian Roulette with the healthcare system.
    Anyway, I’m sure there is more that I could say but consider this my polite, rational disputation.

    • Todd Skousen April 27, 2020 Reply

      Thank you for the response Kenny.

      The CDC estimates that between 9 and 45 million people get the flu in The United States each year. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/burden/index.html

      But I do agree with your point that more people will get coronavirus than the flu because we don’t have immunities yet.

      I also would argue that while your suggested approach of using testing to control it could have worked at some point in time, it is too late at this point to do so. There are just far too many asymptomatic people to control it. For example, this study just came out showing out of 3,300 inmates who tested positive, 96% showed no symptoms.


      It is my belief that at this point at time, there is no way to contain this virus other than to get immunity and move forward. Fortunately, it seems to have spread so widely undetected that the death rate is much lower and we are much closer to herd immunity than previously thought.

      As always, I could be wrong. But I think the bigger risk is the economic damage of continuing on the current path.

      I thank you very much for the respectful response and wish you the best.

  13. Brittney April 27, 2020 Reply

    I would love to think that more people have immunity than previously believed, however, I’m a little suspicious of these tests. Do we have data on how accurate they are?

    • Todd Skousen April 27, 2020 Reply

      The Wall Street Journal ran an an op-ed titled “The New Antibody Evidence” that addressed this question. In it, they discussed the New York study that came out after my article which said that 13.9% of all New Yorkers and 21% of everyone in New York City had antibodies. They also discussed the Santa Clara study. And here’s what they said about the tests:

      “New York’s health commissioner said the state worked to calibrate a reliable test, which had been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The Stanford team used a private manufacturer’s antibody test, which it validated in its own lab, that had a false positive rate of 0.5% and false negative rate of about 20%. False positives most likely did not skew its results.”

      If the false positive rate for Stanford was 0.5%, but 20% for false negatives… I believe that indicates that the numbers are likely even higher in terms of how many people have antibodies.

      These tests aren’t perfect, but every single study so far has shown that far more people have it than not, no matter what tests are used. I believe them.

  14. caroline muir April 27, 2020 Reply

    I agree 100% with your thoughts and facts. I am a former attendee of FreedomFest and now live in Panama City,Panama. I hate this shut down! I am 76 years young and very healthy. This crazy quarantine is lowering my immune, not increasing it! I want OUT of being controlled by any government!!! Thank you!

  15. Gilbry McCoy April 27, 2020 Reply

    Finally a common sense rebuttal. I can’t wait to share this article with friends on both sides of the fence! Thank you… hope to see at Freedom Fest….in Vegas.

  16. Tom G. April 27, 2020 Reply

    Very much in agreement. One point I would make: going back to the time this began, w/o the benefit of hind site, the decision to lock down was perhaps valid – we didn’t know what we were facing or whether it would overwhelm our medical facilities. This was unfortunately prolonged because of stale data continuing to guide decisions by those in power. Let’s hope we learn from our mistakes.

    • Todd Skousen April 27, 2020 Reply

      Yes, I agree with you Tom. The lockdown made sense until we got further information. However, now that we know the disease affects a certain subset of the population and we at least have a whole lot of evidence indicating the disease is much more widespread and less deadly than thought, it’s time to create a new plan of attack IMO.

  17. David Friedman April 27, 2020 Reply

    “As long as you have a population of people who have never been infected, the virus will continue to spread.”
    That is not quite correct. The critical question is whether each infected person passes on the infection to more or less than one person. If more, then the number infected expands, if less, it contracts.

    The more people have had the disease and are immune, the lower the probability that an infected person will meet someone he can infect, hence, on average, the lower the number he passes it to. So what you need is not for everyone to have had the disease but for enough people to have had the disease that someone who is contagious passes the disease, on average, to fewer than one person. That way, whatever number of infected people you start with, the number keeps going down.

    • Todd Skousen April 28, 2020 Reply

      Hey David, thank you for the comment. We are in agreement on the point. Herd immunity works because as more people get infected, the transmission rate of the virus becomes lower. As you say, it eventually goes across the threshold where an infected person transmits it to less than 1 person on average.

      I thought that my comment just after that point made it clear that the entire population did not have to be infected for this to occur. Here’s the relevant section of the article:

      “As Justin Lessler from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health says:

      “It is likely that eventually it will become endemic, and most of us will get infected.”

      He estimates 60%-70% of people will get it, but he says it could happen over a few months or as long as three years.”

      We need around two thirds of the population to get it for herd immunity to work.

      To clarify this point, I will update the sentence you point out to say: “As long as you have a substantial portion of people who have never been infected.”

      Thank you for pointing out how it could be misleading.

  18. Patrick T Peterson April 27, 2020 Reply

    The article below is really good.
    I love this statement in particular: “If we keep the lockdown going, it will make this dangerous period last far longer than it needs to.  It will also leave our hospitals sitting empty and potentially bankrupt, which leaves us less able to handle the patients when they actually come in. AND, and this is where it truly does get scary, in the meantime, we will do irreversible damage to people’s lives and the economy.”Fully explained and backed up.

    I found one small nit:
    Your comment just above the beach volleyball pic: “Like this one ***wishing death*** on the beach goers in Florida:” Well, I certainly did not read the post as “wishing death” – but rather just predicting and fearing a larger death count. Pretty big difference.

  19. David Friedman April 28, 2020 Reply

    [I thought I already said this, but my comment doesn’t appear]
    “As long as you have a population of people who have never been infected, the virus will continue to spread.”

    That is incorrect, or at least misleading. The more people have been infected, the lower the probability that someone currently infected will pass the infection on to someone who has not been infected, hence the lower the number of people who each infected person will, on average, pass the infection to. If that number is less than one, the number infected goes down over time, not up. It is still exponential, but with a negative exponent. Taking your example, and supposing that each infected person passes it on, on average, to half a person, the sequence is:
    20/10/5/2 or 3/~1/soon zero.

  20. Jason Farrell April 28, 2020 Reply

    First off, well laid out and well articulated. I appreciate the perspective and agree with parts of it. I think the core difference is, I personally live with two individuals who are in the high risk category. Because of me and people with similar situations the idea of “fully reopening the economy” is a pie in the sky notion.

    If I trusted the general population to be careful, to wipe surfaces routinely, to cover their mouths, to wash their hands then I might have more confidence but, sadly, I do not. And as long as this exists, there is a chance the virus could spread, unknowingly, to me and I could pass it to my at risk loved ones. This is why, at the least, social distancing is key until we have herd immunity or a vaccine – restaurants, gyms, any place that would bring people together in large amounts are havens for this transmission.

    When I put this to one person they said “so dont go to the gym”. A seemingly valid point however, it belies the reality that enabling the virus to spread more increases the chances that I come into contact with it or another at risk person does – this is simply reality.

    But, it is not lost on my the damage that is being done economically. I do wish we had taken the virus seriously as Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and others did. I wish, sometimes, we had had the wherewithal to impose a national lockdown for 2 months as Italy and China did – perhaps that would have suppressed the spread far faster. I wish we had better ways to combat the hot zones in the country – fully aware that statewide lockdown orders can have disproportionate affect on areas with less cases.

    So, in the end, I feel we have put ourselves in an impossible situation. Whichever we choose, we will have to live with the consequences and hopefully be better next time.


    • Todd Skousen April 28, 2020 Reply

      Hey Jason, I have some high risk people in my life as well so I can sympathize with your feelings here. The tough thing about it is that I think we are going to be at risk no matter what. The New York City antibody study indicated that 21% of those in New York City have already been in contact with the illness. I just don’t see how you avoid it in that scenario when millions of asymptomatic carriers are out there.

      Similarly, testing of 3,300 inmates in prisons across the country found that 96% of those who tested positive are asymptomatic.


      In my view, that makes it impossible to stop the spread because you cannot tell who is infected and who isn’t.

      With that in mind, I’d personally rather see a hardcore lockdown for vulnerable folks while the young and healthy get to herd immunity as fast as possible by fully returning to work. My hope would be that this would allow the vulnerable populations more security after the disease has passed through the bulk of the population.

      Either way, there are no easy answers and I can see your point of view 100%. If I was in the vulnerable population, I wouldn’t be going out now or any time soon that is for sure.

  21. Blake Isaacs April 28, 2020 Reply

    This is a well made argument. My own experience fits. I’m 57 and may have had it in late January and early February. I had what I then thought was an unusually long bout with the flu with a cough that lasted a month, and my 34 year old daughter caught something nastier than she could previously remember. But while it is likely true that the official reports significantly understate the number of cases, this must become generally accepted by the experts who have the ear of policy makers. It seems tens of thousands of antibody tests, a statistically significant sample in a hundred hotspots, could prove that we’re closer to herd immunity than thought and that the fatality percentage is much lower than so far reported. Then, experts like Fauci and Birx can make this argument. When that happens, your idea becomes possible.

  22. Bob April 28, 2020 Reply

    I agree with most everything above. We need to have everybody go back to work on May 5th. Just show up at your work location that you were working at 6 weeks ago. Show local governments and the federal government that we are here, ready and want to work. If everybody shows up on May 5th they can’t really do much about it other than watch what a nation wants to done.

  23. J Jones April 28, 2020 Reply

    Thank you for your thoughtful article, Todd. I have a specific concern with your proposal, that I do not think has been addressed in your article or the comments, but I would like to know your thoughts. You say: “First, we quarantine people with chronic diseases. … We gear all of our resources toward protecting them rather than shutting down everything. At the same time, we fully open the economy for healthy people, especially those under 50.”
    First, I think it fair to accept your necessary assumption that these “chronic conditions” are readily identifiable and constitute only a small minority of the population (although I am not certain either is true).
    Second, I imagine not purposely, but this suggestion seems to imply that each person “with chronic disease[]” lives in isolation or is otherwise capable of being quarantined. The reality is that many of those persons live in the same household with many of the “healthy” persons you say should go back to work. For example, healthy parents might live with a young child with complex heart/lung conditions that fit into your “must be quarantined” category. How is your proposal accomplished without necessarily also quarantining the healthy parents (and every other household member)? The same situation occurs if it is a chronically ill grandparent or other older relative living with the family. And why limit it to young and old chronically ill scenarios? There are many chronically ill that are neither old nor young. I think it reasonable to assume that most, if not all chronically ill persons live with one or more healthy persons, whom you advocate should go back to work. How do you propose mitigating the inevitable transmittal from the healthy person to the chronically ill person within the same household? I hope you have better ideas than I do, but the following options come to mind: 1) send the chronically ill away from their households to a separate quarantine locus? That will not work. Nobody is going to take the 7-year old heart child from their family. Nobody is taking grandma away. 2) expand the quarantine halo to include households of chronically ill persons; i.e. only those with no chronically ill persons in the same household gets to return to work? This expands by several fold, I believe, the number of people who must remain in quarantine under your proposal. As a consequence, you then divide (on an unprecedented scale) those who have the privilege of working from those who are healthy-but-still-unemployed based on whether they have a chronically ill person in their household. I believe current employment laws likely prohibit that kind of employment discrimination, and for a plethora of good reasons.
    In short, I can see how your solution appeals to the healthy household having no chronically ill persons. But what about the very large, I submit, number of healthy persons living in households with a chronically ill person?
    Maybe I am not creative enough to think of a workable solution to this issue within your framework, but I welcome your thoughts. Thanks.

    • Todd Skousen May 1, 2020 Reply

      Hey there,

      I think this is a great point to bring up. And a tough question to answer. I am in agreement that it is “easier said than done.” There is so much overlap in care and living arrangements between the healthy and those who are vulnerable.

      My first main point would be that we are spending trillions and trillions of dollars now to lock down everyone. With that in mind, I believe we would be better suited to put that money toward providing for these vulnerable folks while everyone else gets back to work.

      If necessary, we should provide food, help with mortgage and rent payments, and provide support for healthcare costs if needed.

      Likewise, in order to provide the highest level of protection… I believe caregivers should also be quarantined, but receive higher compensation for doing so.

      It would be rough for them, but would provide the most protection.

      Finally, and most importantly… testing is ramping up greatly. Let’s focus the testing on these vulnerable populations and their caregivers. This is really the best way to provide protection.

      All in all… this is a simple strategy I’ve laid out and obviously the reality would be more complex. But in my view, this ought to be the #1 thing we are focused on as a country is protecting these specific populations that we know are vulnerable.

  24. MB April 29, 2020 Reply

    Thank you for writing this. I agree 100%.

  25. Elmer April 29, 2020 Reply

    Thank you for this post. The #1 thing from it I agree with is from your comment, “The lockdown made sense until we got further information. However, now that we know the disease affects a certain subset of the population and we at least have a whole lot of evidence indicating the disease is much more widespread and less deadly than thought, it’s time to create a new plan of attack IMO.”
    I posted the following on Facebook which presents additional new data and thoughts along the same lines: “COVID-19: When Do We Open Back Up?
    I don’t usually post long, thoughtful posts. But here goes:
    We are in a place right now in our nation where the biggest Covid-19 controversy is, “When do we open businesses back up?” And, “How do we balance safety against economic impact?” There are many who see no controversy at all, because one side of the argument “clearly” outweighs the other. I read almost 300 posts on FB in response to MO Governor Parson’s press conference on Friday where he stated the state would continue with the plan to end to stay-at-home orders after May 3rd. 90% or more of the comments to that briefing were highly critical and all felt, “It’s too soon!” and, “Parsons is going to kill everyone!” due to his unwillingness to extend state stay-at-home measures.
    But this isn’t an either / or situation. Peoples’ lives are important – no matter what – but the economic impacts of our safety measures will absolutely, negatively affect peoples’ lives and livelihood. In fact, these measures have already had serious negative impacts on people. Almost everyone knows someone who has either lost their job or has been furloughed (without pay) at this point.
    So what was the point of closing businesses and other restrictions that were put in place at the state and local level? What were we told? We were all told the point was to, “flatten the curve,” so healthcare and hospitals weren’t overwhelmed, and so we had enough beds and ventilators to treat those hospitalized. And if that was the point, we have achieved that goal in most places in this country. And in fact, we have possibly gone too far; we haven’t just flattened the curve, but instead we have flattened the institution we were trying to protect (https://thefederalist.com/…/instead-of-flattening-the-curv…/). Census is down so far at many hospitals they are having to furlough staff. Our own Children’s Mercy Hospital (very near to our hearts) recently had to furlough 600 staff!
    It is always easy to look back at things and ask, “Did we do the right things?” and, “Did we accomplish what we needed while balancing competing aspects of life?” We should always do so; we should learn and adapt to become better, and not so we can finger-point and say, “I told you so.”
    A new Harvard study (which, by the way, isn’t being given much press – and which does still need peer review) indicates the, “Flatten the curve” effort we implemented here was probably the worst approach we could have taken to both save lives and livelihoods (https://www.sciencetimes.com/…/trying-flatten-curve-worst-w…). But the authors also state two important things: 1) How should we shift our response? We have have country models we can pivot and begin to follow, and 2) Abandoning all measures and just going back to pre-Covid life is not the answer either.
    Perhaps it is time to begin looking at things through the Swedish lens. There are many things we have read about this crises over the last month that demonstrate our statistics (the ones used to make decisions) are flawed. Our logic has been, “Yes, they are flawed – but are the best we have,” so we continue to use them for decision making. Example: what is the most accurate way to measure the ups and downs of Covid cases? Is it counting tested, confirmed cases (statistically flawed in several ways: #s are relative to the # of tests given, and don’t account for how many have already had Covid and recovered)? Is it counting deaths of confirmed cases (which is complicated by the vast majority of deaths in people with co-morbidities; do we attribute those deaths, then, to Covid or the other health condition)? Or, following the Swedes, should we count the number of tested, confirmed cases requiring hospitalization (the metric with the least complications)? The last metric will provide the most accurate measure with the least complications.
    Here are some other Swedish findings we might consider:
    “Tegnell said Sweden has fanned out with regional testing, and they are finding that about 1/3 of the populations tested are positive and not sick, while 2/3 have never been exposed.” So there are many who have not only had Covid already, but many, many (33%) who do not get sick.

    “Tegnell pointed out that this data was evident from Wuhan and has remained consistent: Children neither spread it nor get it. He spoke of a school in Finland where a child was “infected” but nobody else at the school was infected. Nor did the child get sick.” Obviously, children with other conditions or compromised immune systems need to be protected and can get sick. But the rest – maybe they should be in school.

    “Tegnell said he and his team had begin testing sample populations that exhibited no symptoms. Over the past three weeks they have tested approximately 20,000 people per week, including health care workers, in various parts of Sweden. ‘It was about two and a half percent that tested positive,’ Tegnell said.”

    “‘We also have studies that show that for every confirmed case, there are 999 others who have not sought medical care. Mild cases that have been cleared up at home. It speaks to that there are very many who never need a diagnosis.’”
    This year will be remembered by all of us forever. May we all glean and hold onto the good things we can from this time, and may our leaders exploit all the wisdom around the world they can as we continue through this, in order that we can both save lives and minimize other impacts.”

  26. WILLIAM April 30, 2020 Reply

    Some good points here, some based on “expert” speculation and we all know how that can go. If we decide to go against the official Trump 30 day plan and local stay at homes that are all playing to the lowest common denominator, then, there can be no belly aching when things go south and the bodies start to pile up. I hear all the calls for government to get out of our lives until a Katrina hits and then it’s, where were you, please help us. Or there are too many regulations until our food and drugs and air and water are not safe for consumption,. At the end of the day no one really wants to live under a true evolutionary system , as this is not how human societies are built, human societies actually take care of the weak and disadvantaged. We know vaccines can almost eliminate diseases or at least keep them from running rampant , think polio, smallpox, measles, mumps.
    This experience may lead us rethink how we want society to operate, should health care be a right, should education be a priority, should corporations be people, should wealth only trickle down,—–or not.

  27. John ginther April 30, 2020 Reply

    Excellent,professional,objective article that reinforces the need to promote freedoms that are constantly being challenged by a subtle,dark,control agenda!

  28. Andrea May 1, 2020 Reply

    Someone I know posted this tonight. I spent enough time responding to her and I will not waste more time picking apart your article. Instead I’ll just copy what I sent to her. I have no more energy for scientifically illiterate, self-absorbed people like you. I wasted my time reading your article, I think it is only fair you read my “opinion.”
    I am not an infectious disease doctor, but as a scientist, this is truly infuriating. I read the entire article, so I hope you (and hopefully others) will take the time to read my response.

    So I have a few points to make, and in reality I could make a lot more but I just don’t have the patience anymore. So here are a just a couple of things people do not seem to understand.

    The biggest concern about this virus is not the mortality rate, although it IS higher than the flu, and the author of this article misrepresented the data. He quotes MIT (which is ridiculous to quote an institution, rather than a person) “From the result of their blood survey, the German team estimated the death rate in the municipality at 0.37% overall, a figure significantly lower than what’s shown on a dashboard maintained by Johns Hopkins, where the death rate in Germany among reported cases is 2%.” TWO VERY SERIOUS PROBLEMS with information. He is purposefully misleading AND gives data different from his resource! First, it had been well-known (I heard about this a month ago) that Germany has a mortality rate much lower than other countries. So he purposefully chose to mislead you by providing you with Germany’s mortality rate. Second, even more ridiculous, is that the MIT article clearly states the estimated fatality rate per infection is around 1%. (1% is actually a lot more than 0.37%). This article is exactly why you shouldn’t trust everything you read!

    But like I said, the biggest concern is not the mortality rate. It is the high percentage of asymptomatic carriers, no viable, universal treatment, no vaccine, and the fact that we have not established any solid insight about immunity. That is basic science. But let me refer specifically to the article, again.

    The author again quotes MIT “Eventually, when enough people are immune—maybe half to three-quarters of us—the virus won’t be able to spread further, a concept called herd immunity.” Again, there is a VERY SERIOUS PROBLEM with the information provided. It is purposefully INCOMPLETE (which reinforces that this author is dishonest and unethical). If you actually go to back to the same MIT page (I will paste a link at the end of my response) where he copied this quote from, you will see he conveniently left out the rest of what was written. “Once enough people get Covid-19, it will stop spreading on its own. But the costs will be devastating. There are basically three ways to stop the Covid-19 disease for good. One involves extraordinary restrictions on free movement and assembly, as well as aggressive testing, to interrupt its transmission entirely. That may be impossible now that the virus is in over 100 countries. The second is a vaccine that could protect everyone, but it still needs to be developed. A third is potentially effective but horrible to consider: just wait until enough people get it. If the virus keeps spreading, eventually so many people will have been infected and (if they survive) become immune that the outbreak will fizzle out on its own as the germ finds it harder and harder to find a susceptible host. This phenomenon is known as herd immunity.”

    Note how the MIT article specially said that the option that the author of this article is advocating is “horrible to consider.”

    I will not waste my time fact checking his other references, since he’s already shown he is purposefully cherry-picking and misrepresenting the information. But I will provide a very simplified version of why the argument for ending restrictions and relying on herd immunity, fails.

    First, it’s still unclear the level, if any, of immunity acquired after having been infected. Hence, if long-lasting immunity is not acquired after infection, herd immunity is impossible (until a vaccine is developed). Second, we do not know what percent of the population would need immunity in order for herd immunity to be achieved. They are referring to the percentage of the population that needs to have immunity from this specific virus, in order for herd immunity to kick in. This percent (called a threshold) is determined by factors that are unique to each virus, and those are still being investigated for Covid-19. It has not been determined what the threshold is for Covid-19. The MIT article provides some estimates but makes it clear that we still don’t have a definitive R0 value yet, only estimates. For some viruses, only 70% of the population needs to be immune, or vaccinated. However, that threshold for other viruses, such as the highly contagious measles, is as high as 90-95%.

    Additionally, Covid-19 has already mutated several times, so even if you do achieve personal immunity, you may be exposed to other strains which you may not be immune to. We need to slow down the spread because, the more the virus is able to spread, the more opportunity for mutations. Similar to how you can get the flu, recover and get the flu again, because so many different strains exist.

    Containing the spread as much as possible is essential to developing a vaccine. Will we stay in lockdown until a vaccine is developed, has gone through clinical trials, and is available to the public? Not likely. But the more we stay home, the more we practice social distancing, and the more precautionary measures we take NOW, the better chance we have of developing a viable vaccine. Not to mention, fewer people will die. The goal is to flatten the curve! Not necessarily reduce the area under the curve. Because EVEN IF the same number of people get infected and are symptomatic, if we can keep the spread minimal now so that fewer people are sick NOW, people will have a better chance at surviving this in a month, or two or three months because we will know more about the virus and will likely have better treatments for it.

    Now I certainly believe everyone has a right to their opinion, but neither you, me, or the person who wrote that article (which I’m sorry to say, is a rotten person because he willfully and knowingly misrepresented the information from the sources he provided) has even a fraction of the knowledge about this virus than do the scientists and doctors who have spent their lives studying, researching, and practicing this field of medicine. There is a general consensus of the WORLD’S experts, both the scientists in the lab and the doctors on the frontline, and they are the ones to listen to.

    This is paramount for people to understand: tens of thousands of scientists (virologists, immunologists, epidemiologists, etc) and doctors around the world have been tirelessly working on this for months. You, myself, nor the author of the article know better than they do!

    You, or anyone else for that matter, certainly don’t have to listen to them, but to encourage others to reject that consensus is dangerous. It is dangerous to the lives of everyone around us. No one is enjoying this. People on the frontline risking their health, people out of the job not being able to pay their bills, but listen to the experts on this matter so that we can have as few casualties as possible.

    I will end with this: https://www.technologyreview.com/2020/03/17/905244/what-is-herd-immunity-and-can-it-stop-the-coronavirus/

    I encourage you to read it. I will warn you though, this article “from MIT” vehemently argues against this “author’s” stance. Completely and utterly opposes it!

    • Todd Skousen May 1, 2020 Reply

      Hi Andrea,

      Thank you for responding and providing a counterpoint to my argument. I welcome objections and am open to listening to other people’s viewpoints.

      I hope others will consider your opinions and decide for themselves if they have merit.

      Just know that we all have concerns in this. I am not a “rotten person” anymore than you are. I see reports like the UN one that hundreds of thousands of children could die because of the lockdown and that concerns me very much. We all have things we worry about and I respect your opinion as I ask that you respect mine.

      Thank you,

      Todd Skousen

    • Linda May 3, 2020 Reply

      Andrea, congratulations on your well informed response to Todd’s fear-mongering article. It’s so sad that humanity is categorized a statistic, a percentage, and it is disappointing that we are being misinformed because these people need to benefit their own agendas. Todd’s truth is based on facts that have been intentionally distorted as a result of the pressure of certain groups. I do feel that some of his facts are on point, but that yours have an unquestionable validity, which I support. Thank you.

  29. Jan May 1, 2020 Reply

    I agree with all that has been said here. What baffels me is i never hear anyone talk about prevention…educating people on how and what can be done to strengthen the immune sysyem…lifestyle choices, foods we eat, stress, and altenative means such as zinc, vitamin D, vitamin C, propolis, etc…we seem to want to go on drama and not address the cause of things we just want to treat the symptoms and blame
    What i mean is we have a high rate of unhealthy people in our,country…will this COVID 19 wake us up to the fact we are not herd animals with no control of our bodies and our health unlesss we want to be!
    Lets not let this run amuck with no say and just agree to the same conditions until we are told ok boys and girls you are now allowed to come out again!!! It is almost disgusting how we allow ourselves to be controlled
    The facts have been laid out in this article by Todd Skousen…we can keep debating this or just get down to what we can do for ourself as well as for our country…lets save our economy while we may still be able to and allow this to ride itself out while we take the right measures as resourced responsible adults
    Living in fear is only hurting us further…lets start trusting and pull together.
    If we would all quiet our minds and open our hearts we would get the direction we need because this is truly being run by something much bigger than we are! And i am not talking about our government or China or the political powers…i am speaking of God!
    how about we get on our knees and listen for a change. We need to heal our minds and open our hearts….

  30. David Lowe May 1, 2020 Reply

    I agree with what you are saying, we should absolutely open up our economy immediately!

  31. Heather May 1, 2020 Reply

    Couldn’t agree more with this. This is what I have been saying for weeks. We should not be quarantining the healthy, let them live and work, and lessen the impacts of the virus moving forward, as well as the financial impact this will have on our country for years. Great read.

  32. Albert May 2, 2020 Reply

    While I agree with some of the author’s minor points, I’ll have to respectfully disagree with some of his larger ones:

    Regarding author’s argument #1:
    I mostly will have to disagree with the author’s binary assessment that, “the only two ways out are herd immunity or a vaccine in 12-18 months.” He states this dichotomy multiple times throughout the article and is the main thrust of his argument. If you were to use existing country’s approaches to this pandemic, you could use Sweden and Italy to represent his two options. Sweden has had a largely hands off approach and would be the approach if herd immunity was the goal. Early on the UK also took this approach, but changed course once the pandemic started to get out of hand. Currently, Sweden’s new cases are still escalating (see graphs at [1]) and the UK is currently tied with Italy for the most deaths by COVID outside of the US. On the other hand, Italy/Spain/France seem to really have the pandemic under control [1] and are getting ready to safely start reopening up.

    Now, I understand this is precisely the argument the author is making, even countries like Italy will never be able to stop this from spreading unless they keep their strict lockdowns in place until there are 0 cases left, so he argues that overall it would be better to open things up so that we can get the majority of the population infected and recovered as fast as possible.

    However, there are middle ground solutions still possible and I would argue better approaches. Namely, the approach of places like South Korea and Hong Kong. They both now are consistently registering single digit daily cases and even 0 or close to 0 deaths daily. It’s noteworthy that neither one of them ever implemented a lockdown. AND neither have close to herd immunity as Korea has only 10,000 cases to date and HK has 1,000. They seemed to be able to do this by aggressively using a 3 prong approach: aggressive mass testing, efficient contact tracing (making use of apps), and universal use of masks in all public spaces (indoor and outdoors). (A helpful summary video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BE-cA4UK07c)

    While the US has significantly boosted testing, there is still more to go for a country of our population size. While companies like Google are able to make use of similar contact tracing apps as Korea, Americans have largely balked at the idea of these apps that can be invasive to privacy. Korea had similar privacy reservations but chose to temporarily forgo some of those concerns for the sake of having more efficient and effective contact tracing in place. And when it comes to masks, the US still is far from any type of universal usage of masks.

    My point is that there aren’t only two options of “herd immunity” or “complete lockdown”. There are other ways to open things up with strong mitigation structures in place to do it safely such as universal testing + tracing + masking.

    To be clear, I am not arguing for continued lockdown until a vaccine arrives. I am arguing for opening up safely with mitigation. How is that different than opening up for “herd immunity”? The goal of herd immunity is to get the majority of the population infected and recovered as fast as possible, however as we have seen from places like S. Korea and HK, this is an unnecessary risk. There are better ways to open up safely without needing to infect 60+% of a population.

    Regarding author’s argument #2:
    Regarding hospitals being very empty, first of all, praise God that the worse case scenario didn’t happen! However, I do understand his concern about hospitals and staff going out of business. However, the only solution possible isn’t to make more people sick in order to fill beds. Opening up with the goal of getting people infected and recovered “as fast as possible” seems to be exactly the type of thing that would suddenly overwhelm the health care system to it’s breaking point, as we have seen in Italy. Trading one extreme for the other doesn’t seem to be a feasible solution.

    Not that I have all the answers, but perhaps one way to help mitigate the lower rates at hospitals is through federal support. Laid off staff should be first in line to get full unemployment, and hospitals can get stimulus funding from the federal government. This is already happening across many other industries, and keeping our healthcare systems active should be a top priority. This approach could address the author’s point without risking a sudden surge that would overwhelm hospitals (which has actually happened in many hospitals in hard hit areas such as NYC). When you open up with the goal of “herd immunity”, because the goal is to get to that 60+% of population as fast as possible, there is no way to “slow it down” if the hospitals do get overwhelmed. It’s a very risky all-or-nothing strategy in my opinion.

    Regarding author’s argument #3:
    Regarding the evidence that the mortality rate is likely far lower than 2% because the number of infected is likely much higher than reported… the author is making one big oversight. There has been evidence that the number of “COVID Deaths” is also being largely underreported. Many who may have died were never counted as a COVID death because they were never tested and confirmed beforehand. Or because many of the deaths are due to comorbidity underlying conditions, their death would be assumed to have been due to the underlying condition because it wasn’t known that they also had COVID.

    The way to count the deaths that seems more accurate is by the number of “excess deaths” above past yearly averages. Death rates in nations have been remarkably consistent year over year regardless of what is happening that given year. This gives us a very accurate baseline to measure the impact of catastrophic events such as a pandemic. And when you look at these rates across a sampling of a dozen countries, the majority all of them have seen a significant increase in excess deaths (anywhere from 10%-90%, with an average of +60%) [2]

    The author’s evidence for the number of infected likely being underreported is compelling and likely. However, so is the number of deaths related to COVID being underreported. This was also the case during the Spanish Flu, where to this day no one has an accurate number. Because of this fact, the mortality rate can still be close to 2%. The problem is that no one knows for sure.

    There is a great risk in using smaller sample sized mortality rates and then projecting it to the scale of the USA’s 328 million population. If the author’s assumption that the mortality rate is closer to .2%, perhaps “herd immunity” is a viable option. But what if that number is off by a little bit and it was actually closer to 1%? With the amount of uncertainty and inefficient testing and reporting of both infections and deaths that we have seen to date, that sort of variance seem entirely possible to me.

    If you conservatively assume only 60% of the US population gets infected and then infections completely stops, the difference between a .2% and 1% mortality rate would be:
    393,600 deaths (with .2% mortality rate)
    1.96 million (with 1% mortality rate)

    If close to 2 million Americans would die from “herd immunity” would we still want to take that approach? How confident are we that the mortality rate truly is .2% and not 1% (or even higher)? Are we willing to recommend “herd immunity” of 60+% of the population based on this assumption? At the end of the day, I think we need to take all these stats with a grain of salt. It is akin to trying to keep an accurate current count of soldiers killed as you are in the middle of a battle during WWII. We understand that there will be underreporting and inaccuracy in both infected and deaths. We should be careful to make any large scale solutions and recommmendations based on something as tenuous as the mortality rate of COVID-19.

    Regarding author’s argument #4:
    I really have nothing to disagree with the author here. The impact of the lockdowns to the economy can not be overstated (as even yesterday my best friend just lost his job, along with many others I know). Again, as I stated in my first point, I am not suggesting that continuing a lockdown is the best strategy either. We do need to take into account the lives being affected by the lost of jobs, etc. However, I do not think “herd immunity” is the only other option left on the table. There are lower risk ways to open up, without getting the majority of people infected as fast as possible.

    We are also not accounting for the fact that this virus is still less than 6 months old. We still know far less than we would like. There is still so much more research that needs to be done. For example, “herd immunity” is only a viable option if we know for a fact that once infected, you are completely immune. However, we still don’t know definitively if that is the case as there have been cases reported of people getting reinfected. If you do get immunity, how long does it last? There is still more work that needs to be done and it is dangerous to pursue herd immunity based on assumptions. Especially when there are alternatives possible.

    I clearly am not an expert and don’t presume to have the answers, but I think that one important way we can start to open up safely is:

    Firstly to do it slowly. I am sympathetic to the fact that many are eager to have things return back to the way things were. This pandemic has truly been more devastating than anyone could have imagined. Yet if everyone suddenly goes back to life as it used to be, there is too great a risk of a large second wave that would happen too quickly for us to be able to control. (which is exactly what happed in 1918. Taking a herd immunity approach makes this a dangerous possibility. We should start opening up slowly in phases (as many states are trying to do).

    Especially since the prospects of a vaccine have been encouraging with some being even 80% confident that a vaccine could be available as soon as July.

    Secondly, I think that universal mask wearing should be encouraged if not mandated as we open up (especially always indoors). As evidence of airborne transmission of COVID is mounting, again we need to be careful to not assume that keeping 6 feet apart and washing hands are the only ways we can protect ourselves and each other.

    Since I can’t summarize many of the studies here, you can find some of them here: https://twitter.com/dpalbertoh I have tried to compile what I can along the way. But this video can be a good starting point: https://vimeo.com/402577241

    Granted that not all these studies have been peer reviewed yet, again we are in unprecedented times. With a new virus only 5 months old, most things have not had the time to get peer reviewed yet. We need to be careful about dismissing new tests, studies, and simulations at face value simply because they haven’t been published in a journal yet (though many still have been published already regarding evidence for airborne transmission). I do think there is value in many scientists trying to get their finding out to the public as soon as possible because every bit of new information could result in saving thousands of lives.

    So universal mask usage with a careful, methodic, phased reopening with the goal of trying to PREVENT as many infections as possible would be a far less risky approach that will accomplish many of the same goals over recommending herd immunity.

    Clearly far more discussion and information is needed, but I pray that some of the above can be useful as we all try to keep ourselves and others as safe as possible, both physically, mentally, and financially.

    [1] https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/world/coronavirus-maps.html
    [2] https://www.ft.com/content/6bd88b7d-3386-4543-b2e9-0d5c6fac846c

  33. Sean May 3, 2020 Reply

    Dont want to waste my time writing too much except….this article is idiotic.
    .. millennial garbage point of view.

    • Todd Skousen May 4, 2020 Reply

      Hey Sean,
      I admit I had a bit of a laugh at this response. If you knew me, you’d know that I am not someone most people would refer to as a “millennial.”
      Having said that, I offer this post from David Neeleman, the founder of JetBlue… someone who is of a generation you may respect more. I think he brings up many of the same questions I am asking:
      At the very least, even if you disagree with me, I think we all could use more answers on these types of questions so we can formulate a proper strategy going forward.

  34. Deb K May 3, 2020 Reply

    Sorry for the length of this.
    For the same reason I would no longer bring peanut butter cookies to a child’s birthday party, regardless of the consequences to the peanut butter industry, I think we should all think of others and not just ourselves.
    Big Coronavirus Myth #1: If We All Stay at Home, This Disease Will Go Away in Under a Year
    I personally don’t know anyone that thinks this, although I have no doubt there are some. I agree with you that staying at home will not eradicate the virus. It’s the timing on when we get exposed.
    Big Coronavirus Myth #2: The Hospitals are Overwhelmed Right Now So We Need to Flatten the Curve Immediately
    Hospital beds may be empty near you, and hospital beds may even be more available country wide, but that’s because we the people have practiced stay at home, social distancing, and things like face masks. And in the same article it even states ‘It’s like the calm before the storm.,” said a Memorial Healthcare ER doctor who asked not to be named. “South Florida hasn’t felt the surge yet. Of course when it hits, it will be the complete opposite….’
    The problem with picking and choosing hospitals, or one or two events/places for any type of thing, anyone can find something that fits in with their beliefs. And from what I’ve read, fewer beds are being used now because of cancellation of elective surgeries and people are afraid to go to the hospital now.
    I did find that this web site https://www.aha.org/statistics/fast-facts-us-hospitals projects approximately 60% on 4/27. In the middle of the page is the bed occupancy for the countryl
    Big Coronavirus Myth #3: 2% of People Who Get the Coronavirus Will Die
    I don’t know what to say to this. I hope one of the several guesses of the death rate in this article is correct, but I don’t know. This is why we need the Federal Gov’t to stop stealing the tests, both for antibodies and the test to determine if you currently have the virus, from the states. Or if the Fed decides to take them, set up a Federal testing program.
    Also, define less deadly. There have already been over 67,000 deaths. Are you saying that’s okay?
    Big Coronavirus Myth #4: We are Only Talking About Losing Money Rather Than People’s Lives
    Here as you state you are talking about the economy, not just money. Which is a good thing. I don’t believe it should be an either/or decision. I agree with small steps. But golf courses? Beaches? Tattoo Parlors? Really?
    I, like many, have had to cancel or postpone a lot of plans. And I’m glad my 3 kids are grown and I am not responsible for them. They have families and two of them have been laid off because of the way the economy is. But I’m willing to do it in order to keep other people safe. Not forever, but for as long as the scientists think we need it to maintain safe hospitals and safe working conditions for EVERYONE across the country, especially the First Responders.

    • Todd Skousen May 4, 2020 Reply

      Hey Deb,
      Thank you for the thoughtful response. I just wanted to respond to your point on “myth #2.” Most of the countries healthcare facilities are underused right now. I tried to give a number of examples from different parts of the country to emphasize this. But, of course, as you say each hospital is different.
      The issue I have with the plan of shutting down hospitals in expectation of a future surge is that we may make it more difficult in the future to handle that surge if it ever does come. Because while hospitals are sitting idle now, healthcare workers are being laid off, losses are piling up, and elective surgeries are being put off for the future. And so we may end up being less prepared especially considering that hospitals were underutilized during the shutdown and now states are opening back up.
      My biggest concern is that hospitals are laying off workers and losing so much money that they will be less prepared in the future. And here is another recent article showing this type of effect:

  35. Alex May 3, 2020 Reply

    Hi Todd, while I agree with nearly all of your contentions, I offer these two thoughts as it relates to treatments and therapies:
    1) Treating for, “Silent Hypoxia” as early as possible (I’ll let the docs in the article speak to this): https://www.livescience.com/silent-hypoxia-killing-covid-19-coronavirus-patients.html
    Also, treating the disease through immuno-supression methods…seems counter-intuitive but the doc speaks to treating the, “cytokline storm” that brings on the pneumonia (again, I’ll let the doc (Dr. Yadegar) speak to his contentions): https://www.podcastone.com/episode/Dr-Tom-Yadegar

  36. Stephen Greene May 4, 2020 Reply


    If you accept guest posts, how much would you charge? What kind of content would you accept?


  37. Denise E May 9, 2020 Reply

    Thank you for putting this out there. I agree initially we needed to quarantine to see where this was going. Now we see the models are exaggerated, the % of deaths are low and one thing I want to point out is no one – NO ONE has spoken about ramping up our immunity systems with vitamins. If the sun kills the virus – has anyone looked at taking vitamin D? I have not found any reading on this. My view is in line with you with an additional idea. If you are sick STAY HOME! If you have a com promised immune system STAY HOME! If you are healthy, can still practice social distancing and build up your immune system – there is no reason to stay home. This will allow our economy to start moving in the right direction. I have spoken to 3 people in the medical field. One in Colorado, one in Illinois and one in Alabama. All three say the same thing. They are furloughing nurses due to no patients. Of course, in metropolitan areas where there is a greater need – this may need to be handled differently. However, to treat rural areas and suburbs (where there isn’t a huge explosion of the virus) in the same manner as these largely infected areas is ridiculous. Don’t group us all across this country. If regions are doing okay then these areas need to be allowed to go back to work, to their businesses. I understand the herding method yet, I find the method I describe is a compromise of all or nothing. It gives the decisions back to the people and with what we are currently experiencing – we can hope that when people are sick – they will think about others and STAY HOME! Thanks for letting me give my two cents.

  38. Steve Trost May 14, 2020 Reply

    Todd, great piece!  I just published a risk management analysis that parallels your points here (and puts numbers to it).  Here’s the quick summary:  There could be up to 2 million US fatalities (based on 70% uniform exposure before population immunity is achieved), if we continue indiscriminate lockdowns or uniform social distancing.  Treating everyone the same (whether it be extreme isolation, moderate social distancing, or no social distancing) results in 10x more fatalities than specifically protecting the most vulnerable while simultaneously allowing the least vulnerable to socially interact in a ‘normal’ fashion.  Using the optimistic frame, we can expect a 90 to 96% reduction in total COVID-19 deaths if Very Low Risk individuals return to normal life while we aggressively protect the most vulnerable.  Here is a link to the analysis:

    • Todd Skousen May 14, 2020 Reply

      Thanks for posting this Steve. I thought your analysis was spot on!

  39. Dorine June 23, 2020 Reply

    Amazing post. It is interesting to read what others thought and how it relates to them or their customers, as their view
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