COVID-19 and the Elderly

This excerpt from a Washington Post story about the Great Reopening in Georgia attracted lots of attention a few days ago:

On the sprawling green plaza, people began gathering elbow-to-elbow on blankets and lawn chairs, opening beers and bottles of wine. “I think you have to live life,” said Jeff Lampel, taking a sip of beer.

“When you start seeing where the cases are coming from and the demographics — I’m not worried,” agreed his friend Scott Friedel.

“I know what people are going to say — ‘Those selfish idiots are killing our old people!’ ” said Lampel.

Progressives immediately pounced on this, accusing Friedel of racism. But there’s no evidence for that, and his friend Lampel made clear that he, at least, was talking about the elderly. You can decide for yourself whether that’s any better, but here’s what they were most likely thinking of:

There have been, so far, only about 17,000 COVID-19 deaths among those under age 65, and the death rate is flattening out. Looking at this, it’s no big surprise that a lot of people might think like this:

  • Businesses are run mostly by those under 65.
  • They can all go back to work with little risk.
  • None of this should affect the elderly, who are either self-isolating at home or in nursing care.

This reasoning isn’t necessarily right, but it’s certainly appealing. And as long as we jump to explain everything as a product of crude racism instead of considering alternatives—and then taking the time to explain why this age-based reasoning is wrong—there’s not much chance that it will change.

NOTE: The CDC numbers are based on actual date of death, which means they lag the total death toll and are lower than the Johns Hopkins numbers we usually see. I multiplied the CDC numbers by 1.3 to account for this.

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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