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Let us examine the Great Barrington Declaration with the respect it deserves, which is very little. The advocates, who include Dr. Scott Atlas, President Donald Trump's preferred pandemic expert, argue that all these shutdowns are causing economic and psychological havoc that's worse than the disease. Better to let the coronavirus infect the young and healthy, thus building immunity in numbers large enough to nearly stop the virus' spread. The elderly and other vulnerable Americans can lock themselves away.


Dr. Anthony Fauci, most other Americans' preferred pandemic expert, has called the idea "total nonsense."

It's true that the economy can't be shut forever. But with a vaccine on the horizon, letting the virus just rip is idiotic. Why can't we just minimize the transmission of the disease for a few months more until there's an effective shot?

As Dr. Rochelle Walensky, an infectious disease specialist at Harvard University, put it, "You don't roll out disease — you roll out vaccination."

Shutdowns do hurt the economy. But so does a plague that makes people afraid to go to the store.

On that point, the virus could claim 415,000 American lives by Feb. 1 even without easing restrictions, according to the University of Washington Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. And we'd still be nowhere near herd immunity.

Former Harvard Medical School professor William Haseltine says just letting the virus go on a rampage would amount to "mass murder."

While economic hardship can lead to deaths of despair, so can loss of a loved one. Add to that the uncountable cost of heart disease, lung ailments and other lingering health problems that haunt even many young survivors of the disease.

Besides, several states that strenuously locked down to curb the spread of the disease are already reopening in a generally slow and controlled manner. We see the possibilities in countries that imposed harsh rules early on. Japan, Australia and South Korea, for example, are almost COVID-free.

Some public health experts who don't advocate lockdowns as the main way to curb the virus do urge the wearing of masks, social distancing, testing and tracing. That is, people go about their business but adopt measures to control the spread.

That could be a plausible argument in a country not led by Trump. He's done less than zero to support those steps. Nothing could be more dimwitted or cruel than his mocking people who wear masks. About his plan to protect the elderly: Actually, there isn't one.

Sweden famously tried to keep its economy open without imposing many restrictions on its people. Its reward was one of the highest coronavirus death rates in the world. Its economy, meanwhile, is worse off than some of its Scandinavian neighbors'. For example, Sweden has had 11 times the death rate of Norway, and its economy shrunk 8.3 percent in the second quarter, whereas Norway's fell only 5.1 percent.

Another important consideration: Sweden is not the United States. It has far lower rates of obesity, a factor in many coronavirus deaths. And it did ban gatherings of more than 50 people. Sweden wouldn't have allowed Trump to hold rallies attended by thousands crowded together and largely maskless.

Americans, we know you hate the restrictions. You hate masks. Of course you do.

But stories of survival usually center on tough people who hang in there until help arrives. No one stuck in the wilderness leaves a shelter without a plan of action.

We have the luxury of knowing that help is on the way. A vaccine is expected to arrive late this year or early next. Why not minimize harm until the cavalry comes?

We can do this.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

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Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

Dr. Anthony Fauci

Photo by The White House

A Maryland anti-vaxxer is facing charges for threatening National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Director Anthony Fauci over email-- going as far as to warn the face of America's COVID-19 response that he would be "hunted, captured, tortured and killed," among other things-- according to court documents that were unsealed on Tuesday.

According to the affidavit filed in support of a criminal complaint, Thomas Patrick Connally, Jr. committed two violations-- threatening a federal official and sending interstate communication containing a threat to harm, both of which are felonies.

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