Emily Oster Proposes ‘A Pandemic Amnesty’

I don’t know much about the American pandemic pundits, but I gather that Brown University economist and “parenting guru” Emily Oster is far from the worst of them. Her Twitter timeline suggests she spent the early months of the pandemic terrified about the virus until school closures took their toll on her kids, at which point she repositioned herself as a kind of lockdown moderate, opposing the worst of the hystericist excesses while validating their central premises whenever possible to save face with friends and colleagues.

“Employer mandates” mean firing people who don’t share your medical and political opinions.

Emily Oster’s latest act of moderation is the suggestion that we forgive and forget all the disastrous policies inflicted on us by terrified wealthy urbanites, clueless technocrats and mad scientist vaccinators since 2020, because, hey, these were just honest mistakes, anybody could’ve messed up like that, it’s all good.

April 2020, with nothing else to do, my family took an enormous number of hikes. We all wore cloth masks that I had made myself. We had a family hand signal, which the person in the front would use if someone was approaching on the trail and we needed to put on our masks.  Once, when another child got too close to my then-4-year-old son on a bridge, he yelled at her “SOCIAL DISTANCING!”

These precautions were totally misguided. In April 2020, no one got the coronavirus from passing someone else hiking. Outdoor transmission was vanishingly rare. Our cloth masks made out of old bandanas wouldn’t have done anything, anyway. But the thing is: We didn’t know.

The thing is, Emily Oster, that we did know. We’ve studied respiratory virus transmission for years. All the virologists and epidemiologists who aren’t total morons knew your 2020 mask routine was crazy and they just didn’t care. They wanted you to do it anyway, because they thought that if they got you to act paranoid and antisocial enough, your insane behaviour might have some limited effect on case curves. Joke’s on you, and it’s sad you still haven’t realised.

[T]here is an emerging (if not universal) consensus that schools in the U.S. were closed for too long: The health risks of in-school spread were relatively low, whereas the costs to students’ well-being and educational progress were high. The latest figures on learning loss are alarming.  But in spring and summer 2020, we had only glimmers of information. Reasonable people—people who cared about children and teachers—advocated on both sides of the reopening debate. …

No, reasonable people could see already in March 2020 that SARS-2 posed no measurable threat to children. There was never any debate about this.

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