by Jon Guze
Senior Fellow, Legal Studies, John Locke Foundation
Norway appears to be blessed with a lot of such people. From a recent report in the Spectator:
[T]he Norwegian public health authority has published a report with a striking conclusion: the virus was never spreading as fast as had been feared and was already on the way out when lockdown was ordered. ‘It looks as if the effective reproduction rate had already dropped to around 1.1 when the most comprehensive measures were implemented on 12 March, and that there would not be much to push it down below 1… We have seen in retrospect that the infection was on its way down.’ …
It’s hard to imagine an American public health authority publishing such a report, and, if one were to be published, it’s even harder to imagine American politicians and bureaucrats responding to it the way Norway’s leaders have done. Here, according to the Spectator, is how Camilla Stoltenberg, the director of Norway’s public health agency, responded:
‘Our assessment now, and I find that there is a broad consensus in relation to the reopening, was that one could probably achieve the same effect – and avoid part of the unfortunate repercussions – by not closing. But, instead, staying open with precautions to stop the spread.’ This is important to admit, she says, because if the infection levels rise again – or a second wave hits in the winter – you need to be brutally honest about whether lockdown proved effective.
Ms. Stoltenberg is not alone. Norway’s Prime Minister, has been equally candid. The Telegraph reports:
On Wednesday night, Norway’s prime minister Erna Solberg went on Norwegian television to make a startling admission: she had panicked. Some, even most, of the tough measures imposed in Norway’s lockdown now looked like steps too far. “Was it necessary to close schools?” she mused. “Perhaps not.”
It was a preemptive step only a leader with Solberg’s folksy, down-to-earth style could get away with. “I probably took many of the decisions out of fear,” she admitted, reminding viewers of the terrifying images then flooding their screens from Italy.
It would be nice to get a equal degree of candor from Mandy Cohen and Roy Cooper, but I’m not holding my breath.