Con: Ineffective and Damaging

Like all responses to the coronavirus, the choice to lock down our country has been little more than an educated guess and an expensive one at that.

Like all responses to the coronavirus, the choice to lock down our country has been little more than an educated guess and an expensive one at that. Despite claims that the measure could "flatten the curve," the true benefits of lockdown guidelines remain unquantifiable without a representative control group or reference model. As we continue to shelter in place, the detriment from the quarantine becomes increasingly clear. Our country is on the precipice of its worst economic fallout since the Great Depression, with investors losing any and all market gains since the 2008 Great Recession. Small and large businesses across the nation have suffered tremendously, with even our very own neighborhood bakery, The Gingered Peach, being pulled to the verge of bankruptcy. Despite the incredible toll it has taken on our country, the quarantine has only failed to significantly prevent the spread of coronavirus, demonstrating that this draconian approach is ultimately not worth the suffering it is causing.

While our community is blessed with not having to worry about bare life necessities, we must consider the millions of Americans living paycheck to paycheck when assessing the effectiveness of our lockdown. This policy has impacted all Americans on a personal level-especially those of a lower socioeconomic status. A hidden cost of stay-at-home orders and school shutdowns is meals for children of poorer families. Over 32 million children across America participate in free or reduced-fare lunch programs. With schools closed, these families are struggling to provide their children three meals a day, an issue that many of us take for granted or even forego for "health reasons"; however, our lockdown has in fact made basic necessities inaccessible to millions. As if this were not outrageous enough, workers across the nation have faced steadily reduced pay as corporations try to stem their losses. The only glimmer of hope those workers have is the $1,200 stimulus check that Congress promised them, but even those have been delayed as underfunded and overworked government agencies struggle to keep the country afloat. Without proper income, many Americans will struggle to pay for the exorbitant price of healthcare in this nation, whether to treat pre-existing health conditions or even the coronavirus itself. The lockdown risks starving families and may exacerbate minor health issues into long-term burdens for the medical system after the pandemic fades away. These hardships have been caused by government policy, so it should rest upon those same legislators to provide their constituents with a solution.

What's worse, it's likely that a lockdown was never necessary in the first place. While scientists are still uncertain about the true extent of coronavirus infections, recent studies by two Stanford University labs revealed that far more people have been infected than currently stated, suggesting that the coronavirus is more infectious but less fatal than previously thought. As our detection methods improve and become more widespread, scientists are realizing that most of the now-confirmed coronavirus cases remained undetected for weeks during this lockdown period, suggesting that the virus may continue to spread quickly despite our best efforts. Furthermore, lockdowns have not prevented health systems from failing in cities across the nation, most notably in Chicago and New York, which was the original intent of the safety measure. Thus, even amidst our supposedly ironclad quarantine measures, the lockdown has failed to achieve its primary purpose of stemming the spread of the coronavirus.

And it may not have been the only option. Not all countries have turned towards draconian measures to combat this virulent disease; Sweden, for example, is the only country in Europe to resist a lockdown and opt instead for a "slow burn" approach. Shops have remained open, and citizens are allowed to roam free. This controversial approach has caused an uproar across the globe as citizens petition for their governments to follow Sweden's example, and for good reason; while the overall effectiveness of Sweden's strategy is still being assessed, it has certainly prevented an overload of the country's health system like the ones seen in New York, Italy, and China. Furthermore, this open country strategy combats the spread of COVID while also preserving personal freedoms, a delicate balance that any fair government ought to maintain. Considering the current catastrophe caused by its severe anti-COVID measures, clearly Congress should adopt Sweden's coronavirus containment model instead of continuing to drain our economy, which may lead to worse consequences in the long run.

We are now in a crucial moment of our epidemic, one that will define the progression of coronavirus and the nation for the coming weeks. As the infections appear to taper, Congress is presented with a rare opportunity to learn from other nations and adjust its response to the pandemic in a way that can restore civil liberties while amending the damage caused by our quarantine. By doing so, the U.S. is not only helping its hardest-hit constituents, but also pioneering a hybrid solution that can inspire other nations in their own recovery efforts and return the world to economic stability.

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