There’s an intense, often ugly debate over the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In broad brushstrokes, some contend that the lower-than-predicted death toll proves the models forecasting massive fatalities were needlessly sensational. Some even suggest they were deliberately so, to scare politicians, including President Trump, into taking drastic and unnecessary action.
A few conspiracy theorists—so-called “coronavirus truthers”—see more sinister motives at play. But, as is always the case, these cranks and grifters are best ignored, so I won’t shine a light on them here.
The serious debate centers around whether the initial models were always exaggerated, or whether the response to them is driving down fatalities more effectively than epidemiologists predicted. For what it’s worth, my opinion is “both.”
What makes the debate uglier than it needs to be is that many of the people denouncing the initial projections want to make the case that our response was deliberately misguided from the beginning — so much media hype, partisan point scoring, and ideologically motivated crisis exploitation — and that we never should have shuttered the economy.