A Sensible and Compassionate Anti-COVID Strategy

Jay Bhattacharya
Stanford University


Jay BhattacharyaJay Bhattacharya is a Professor of Medicine at Stanford University, where he received both an M.D. and a Ph.D. in economics. He is also a research associate at the National Bureau of Economics Research, a senior fellow at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research and at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, and director of the Stanford Center on the Demography and Economics of Health and Aging. A co-author of the Great Barrington Declaration, his research has been published in economics, statistics, legal, medical, public health, and health policy journals.

The following is adapted from a panel presentation on October 9, 2020, in Omaha, Nebraska, at a Hillsdale College Free Market Forum.

My goal today is, first, to present the facts about how deadly COVID-19 actually is; second, to present the facts about who is at risk from COVID; third, to present some facts about how deadly the widespread lockdowns have been; and fourth, to recommend a shift in public policy.

1. The COVID-19 Fatality Rate

In discussing the deadliness of COVID, we need to distinguish COVID cases from COVID infections. A lot of fear and confusion has resulted from failing to understand the difference.

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Remaining Thankful in 2020

Author of the first American dictionary, Noah Webster, says Thanksgiving is “a public celebration of divine goodness; also, a day set apart for religious services, specially to acknowledge the goodness of God, either in any remarkable deliverance from calamities of danger, or in the ordinary dispensation of his bounties.”

The tradition of Thanksgiving as a time to focus on God and His blessings dates back almost four centuries. While such celebrations occurred at Cape Henry, Virginia as early as 1607, it is from the Pilgrims that we derive the current tradition of Thanksgiving.

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Washington’s 1789 Thanksgiving Proclamation

Issued by President George Washington, at the request of Congress, on October 3, 178

By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.


Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and—Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:”

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Resolution on COVID-19 Government Overreach

WHEREAS, with the onset of the Wuhan Virus pandemic the government on multiple levels has responded with measures which have eroded and curtailed our liberties of religion and assembly;

WHEREAS, in past times we as Americans have faced public health crises without surrendering our basic freedoms;

WHEREAS, our founding fathers warned us about tyranny which started with the good intentions of those who later became tyrants;

BE IT RESOLVED, that the Constitution Party opposes any governmental overreach to seize powers not granted in the Constitution, even with the best of intentions.

-- from the Constitution Party State Convention, April 11, 2020


Do Governors Have Authority to Shut Down State Economies and Commerce?

Today, President Trump posted on social media: “…some in the Fake News Media are saying that it is the Governors’ decision to open up the states, not that of the President of the United States & the Federal Government. Let it be fully understood that this is incorrect. It is the decision of the President, and for many good reasons…” 

To clarify, nowhere in the Constitution is the President given the authority to regulate commerce, let alone intrastate commerce. An American President is not an autocrat. To put a finer point on it, the media he is criticizing are also incorrect because Governors are not the autocrats of their states either.

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