Thoughts from the Frontline

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Latest Issue

COVID-19: A Data-Driven Analysis

June 5, 2020

Should you wear a mask in public? This seemingly simple question immediately generates emotional, political, and social anxiety.

It is just one of many provocative questions COVID-19 is forcing upon us. They should be simple, data-driven policy issues but many are not.

Today’s letter is in a different format from the usual Thoughts from the Frontline. As long-time readers know, I am in frequent (and lately almost daily) contact with Dr. Mike Roizen, emeritus head of wellness at the famous Cleveland Clinic, member of the Cleveland Clinic’s leadership team, and author of many books which, thanks to Oprah (he was her doc), have together sold 28 million hard copies. Today we write a joint letter to you. It may be controversial, but that comes with the territory.

Mike and I became online friends over 15 years ago and then he became my doctor and a good friend. He keeps me healthy and I feed his economic information addiction. A perfectly reasonable symbiotic relationship. We have been sharing information on the coronavirus crisis, on which he is an advisor to several state governments.

So today, we’re going to look at some actual data, both medical and economic. Spoiler alert: The unintended consequences of our response may be more threatening than the actual virus, unless we begin changing some things soon.

Double Effect

We’ll start by looking at both direct effects of the coronavirus, and its secondary effects.

The direct effects come from both the virus itself...

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