City, state, and federal bureaucracy and politicians failed to lead. Almost every person in the above groups succumbed to hysteria from incompetency, fear, or both. There was no justification for shutting down the nation for more than three weeks. If China and the WHO had provided accurate information, there would have been no need to shut down the country. All that was necessary was to safeguard those in high-risk groups from catching the virus. For those not in the high mortality groups, contracting COVID-19 was not a death sentence.
Seriously, does anyone think transit ridership is coming back anytime soon? Many changes to buses, subway cars, and stations will be needed to get ridership on subways and buses back to pre-COViD-19 levels. Ventilation to pull air up and out of the vehicle will be required, more subway cars and buses added and kept clean. The frequency between trains and buses will have to be increased to lower crowding. People have told social distancing reduces exposure to the coronavirus. Influenza, pneumonia MRSA and tuberculosis quickly spread on crowded subway cars. Warts, ringworm, and scabies are skin diseases one can catch on a crowded subway. (1) Crowded subways and bed bugs are common (2) Transit authorities have tried to hide all the diseases and parasites one can catch in crowded subway cars and subway stations hidden from passengers.
The fixation academics and bureaucrats have had for decades of making every building energy-efficient while downplaying the negative health consequences of breathing recirculated air to gain acceptance by the public is an example of academic, scientific, and political tunnel vision. The way to fix a long term and complex problem is not to ignore or simplify other variables in the environment that will be thrown out of balance by a simple fix. This short-sighted myopia is exactly what the poorly thought out push to make every building energy-efficient using energy consumption as the only variable in the equation is! Every year new standards and regulations by the very same groups mentioned above are issued to undo problems created by demanding energy efficiency.
Fresh air and natural light were sacrificed on the altar of energy efficiency. Healthy buildings for the people in them took a back seat to BTUs kilowatts and CO2. How many historic, well-built buildings destroyed or turned into sick buildings in the name of energy-efficient? Urbanites now live in energy-efficient tombs that kill. And, as always, the fixes to make buildings healthy will be costly and ultimately use more energy(3).
Too many mayors of cities are deluged by a sea of bureaucrats chasing imaginary dragons as Don Quixote had. It takes a great mayor and support staff to see through the shenanigans of career bureaucrats eager to justify their existence. It takes an even greater mayor and staff to create a city government staffed by capable people interested in the city they serve and not just collecting a salary. Solutions that require multidisciplinary expertise and understanding will be few and far between as long as mayors look to institutions that focus on instant science and solutions.
The Asian Flu Pandemic of 1957 killed 116,000 in the United States. (1) The population of the United States in 1957 was 178 million(2). The proportion of the population who died in 1957 was .00065. The 2020 population of the United States is 331 million. If in 1957, the population of the United States was 331,000, the number of dead from the Asian Flu Pandemic would have been over 200,000.
If COVID-19 kills 200,000 in the United States, this will be no worse than the 1957 flu epidemic was for Americans in 1957. (3) There was no mass panic, and there were no nationwide shutdowns in 57. Our nation has been shut down by officials terrified of a virus with a mortality rate that is about the same as the 1957 pandemic. (4) What has changed? The quality and courage of the nation’s leaders have dropped since 1957. They were easily panicked by media anchors who did not do any in-depth reporting. The nation’s media failed to do its job as is true of the scientists relying on computer models. Scientis treat the forecasts as fact and not as a model. Scientists gave simulations greater credibility than field data. Worse, the city, state, and federal leadership failed to read the information provided with each of the computer forecasts that did indicated that the vast majority of deaths would be in the over 75 age group.
What the academics, politicians, media, and bureaucrats hid from the public was that China had bought up all the necessary medical supplies that would be needed by hospitals. China had diverted all production facilities in China to meet domestics needs. The experts panicked because, unlike earlier times, the leaders, Congress, and the intellectual elites stripped the nation of the ability to supply the country with the medical supplies necessary to fight this pandemic.