To the editor: After an emotionally and financially devastating shutdown, Fairbanks and the state of Alaska are now subjected to a daily litany of panicky announcements regarding dreaded new cases of COVID-19. Every day we’re reminded that it will be with us forever, and don’t forget, alongside the seasonal flu outbreaks.
The consensus is that the virus is easily transmissible and the majority of carriers are asymptomatic. It is also attributed with a low mortality rate. This is reflected in the daily announcements of new Alaska infection cases: New hospitalizations and deaths are consistently low. But even with strict shutdown rules, virus death numbers in the United States have been dramatic.
Shutting down New York City didn’t prevent deaths. Forcing people indoors may have led to increased spread. In contrast, Sweden didn’t impose a shutdown and weathered the virus with a functioning economy and an educated society. Its hospital system continued providing services.
In the United States, the suspension of elective procedures and interruption of medical care will deal a blow in coming years with additional deaths from colon and breast cancer alone. There is a further impact from unemployment due to an economic shutdown in the increased number of deaths from drug overdoses, depression and suicide.
Adults aren’t alone in this. The closing of schools will likely become the biggest source of damage to a generation. Depression among school-age students due to lack of social contact and having unemployed parents at home to care for children will prove to be devastating. Sweden didn’t shut down primary education schools. This allowed essential adults in its hospital system to work. And it was proven that young children consistently play almost no part in the spread of the virus. Sweden even concluded that secondary education school shutdowns had been unnecessary.
This contrasts with authorities in Alaska and the USA, where panic and hysteria drive absurd policies regarding school. Leading this charge are teacher unions’ unfounded fear-mongering. Teacher’s unions are telling their members that if they are forced to teach, they should prepare for death by having their wills done. I never heard such rhetoric when teachers would die during flu outbreaks.