November 29, 2021

PANIC IS A LIFESTYLE BRAND:

“There’s no reason to panic,” NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins told CNN on Sunday morning, “but it’s a great reason to get boosted.” President Joe Biden did his best to relieve the stress that overtook opinion-makers on Monday.  “We’re going to fight and beat this new variant today,” he said. But “not with shutdowns or lockdowns.” Biden stressed that “this variant is a cause for concern, not a cause for panic.”

But there was a panic. And if you have investments in the market or need crucial elective surgeries in the state of New York, it was a damaging one. Why was panic the default response of so much of the news-consuming world over the weekend? And why have sobriety and circumspection now returned to both media and markets? In part because panic has become a lifestyle choice among an influential few.

The revivification of COVID as an acute emergency led some particularly active communicators to retreat into the comfort of existential dread. Of this, one instructive Twitter thread produced by Boston University School of Public Health Associate Professor Dr. Ellie Murray was indicative. Yes, she wrote, we must continue to promote vaccines, disseminate rapid tests, and approve promising therapeutics. But we must also restore masking mandates, prepare for business closures, provide paid pandemic furloughs, legislate a constitutionally viable moratorium on evictions, force airlines to absorb the cost associated with socially distanced flights, take all winter social gatherings outside, and develop “clear triggers to switch to hybrid or remote” learning in schools.

That is a lot of confidence to assign to these mitigation measures when there is almost no confidence in the newly identified threat they are supposedly designed to mitigate against. There may yet come a time to panic over the emergence of this or future COVID mutations, but that time is not now. This sort of display is explicable only as a psychological orientation, not a considered response to a two-year-old public health crisis. Those who exhibit this peculiar orientation have outsized influence over the national discourse. As the weekend’s anxiety suggests, it isn’t helping.

Our leftist elites, whose worldview is shaped by “the moral equivalent of war,” are desperate to keep the lockdown gloom of 2020 going as long as possible. On the other hand, even (P)resident Biden knows that a new lockdown would be the effective end of bumbling administration: New variant cause for concern, not panic, Biden tells US.

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