by Joseph Coletti
Senior Fellow, Fiscal Studies, John Locke Foundation
UNC Professor Zeynep Tufekci says public health officials missed an opportunity this summer:
we should have made it a priority to encourage people to recharge, psychologically, as much as possible over the summer. Instead, in a lot of places, we acted like we were still in the worst phase of the epidemic. Around the country, there were places where the virus wasn’t circulating much and the weather was suitable for outdoor activities. But people were not encouraged to let themselves breathe a bit. Even in places where case numbers in the summer were higher, we should have properly targeted the precautions.
Here in North Carolina, picnic areas and playgrounds—where people could gather instead of being cooped up in air-conditioned homes, which are far more dangerous–remained completely closed over the summer, wrapped up in alarmist tape. When these spaces were eventually opened, in early September, gyms and fitness centers were simultaneously opened—even though the latter should have remained closed for indoor activities as we enter the fall/winter months. And North Carolina has had relatively sensible measures compared with most states!
Many people still took trips to the beach, to parks, or just outside for a walk, but they did so against the current of vocal opinion reinforced by state government officials that leaving the house for any reason was a bad idea. As those of us in the Triangle recover from the first night below freezing of the winter, I hope you were able to get outside this summer and still find ways to be outside, despite the cold.