Why you need to restrict your freedom and stay at home
As the lockdown wears on, people are bristling and trying to wonder why they should stay home. After all, aren't virus deaths on the decline? Isn't the risk very low for younger people, and from things like outdoor activities? Aren't people suffering great economic harm? Don't we have a free society where people have the right to decide for themselves what risks they want to take?
I have made a Covid song parody (a popular pastime) about the need to stay at home.
All these are true, but...
You're not staying at home to protect yourself. It's to protect others by not letting yourself be a virus-breeding vector
Yes, the odds of death for young people are low enough that we wouldn't lock down the economy to prevent it. The problem is, while you do have the right to take on risks for yourself (or more questionably, for your family and house-mates) you don't have the right to put others at risk. Every risky activity increases the viruses chances to breed, and to move through you to other people. This is an epidemic. It's about society being at risk, not just you.
Perhaps you have a 0.1% chance of dying if you get infected. Your chance of killing someone, though, is much higher. While it's hard to give a certain number because we don't know how long the virus will be around, but a pretty rough guess is that on average, if you get infected, then you have around a 1% chance of killing somebody else who gets it from you, or gets it from a chain that goes through you. You can take that 0.1% chance with your own life -- people do that all the time -- but how can you justify doing something that has a serious chance of leaving others who didn't sign up dead, with more sick or chronically ill?
Your chance of dying depends on your own health and age. Your chance of killing somebody largely does not. The virus isn't out to get you, it's out to use you to help itself breed. And it's sneaky -- half the people who have it don't even know they have it.
Don't we put others at risk all the time?
We do. If you drive for 10,000 miles (about a year) I calculate probably around a 1 in 1500 (.06%) chance of killing somebody. As we know, while car crashes kill about 40,000/year in the USA -- a horrible toll -- the virus will probably kill 200,000. But to drive you need a licence and to pass a test, and follow tons of laws and restrictions on your freedoms to get it down to that number. If you keep breaking those laws, you'll lose that licence. If, after you learned about what the virus will do to people who get it from you, you decided to keep breaking the rules and recklessly breed and spread it, well, don't be surprised if people are not so fond of what you are doing with your freedom.
Aren't lots of prohibited activities actually pretty low risk of transmission?
They are. But one of the things we have trouble understanding about exponential threats like a virus is that risks don't add, they multiply. You understand that if one person litters, it's annoying, and if 1,000 people litter it's 1,000 times as annoying. Viruses don't work that way. They're more like nuclear reactors. A certain low amount of activity produces a relatively small result, but as the level of activity increases, suddenly it reaches a point where it goes exponential -- doubling every round instead of just growing in the linear way we understand. If it does, it melts -- or if contained, explodes.
You saw that happen at the start of the virus, when there were just a few cases found. Every few days the newspapers reported twice as many cases. What seemed like barely anything in early March had left 20,000 extra people dead 2 months later. That's the deceptive nature of the exponential.
Risk multiplies which means that what one person does is little, but if too many people do it, it explodes. If 10 people go to a rally, it won't be very much, and 1,000 people isn't just 100 times as bad. Based on the parameters of the virus it can be many thousands of times as bad. That's why only the essential workers and travelers should stay at home, to keep us below that threshold.
Yes, the lockdowns are too much. They have to start that way.
The lockdowns are definitely more than we need. They have to be, because at the start, we didn't know for sure what we needed. Right now, people are trying to learn as much as they can about how the virus moves -- unfortunately they are not learning nearly as fast as they should or could -- but each thing they learn will allow reasoned decisions to be made about what activities are low enough risk to go on, and which need to be curtailed. In spite of what I sing, certain beach activity (with family) is probably OK. Loosely packed protests with masks may not be that bad. Church and hair salons, not so much.
A super-strong lockdown, as was done in China, can make the virus die off very quickly, just as wide open activity can make it explode. If you can really shrink it down, that lets you actually let off the lockdown a fair bit, just to the point before it goes exponential. Each defiance, each new risk, is delaying the day we can do that. By congregating, by defying the stay-at-home, you are the one delaying the day we can open up again. Around the world, other countries which didn't defy have declining cases, while many of the states in the USA have increasing ones. You are the cause of the very thing you are marching against.
What about forcing us to wear masks?
Perhaps you've guessed this by now, but the mask is there more to protect other people than it is to protect you. Sure, it's an infringement on your freedoms to force you to wear stuff, but people have asked you to wear them, and now they're telling you to, because once you realize it's to stop you from killing somebody's grandpa, you would never be the sort of asshole who refuses -- or so I hope.
Isn't religious practice constitutionally protected?
It is, though it is not immune from rules which apply regardless of religion. The church still has to follow the building and safety codes. But you don't need to look at the constitution. If you're Christian, Jesus himself gave very clear instructions on how to worship and pray. They are found in Matthew 6:6. This is not some random part of the bible, it is the Sermon on the Mount, the very core of the teachings of Jesus. If your pastor tells you to disobey Jesus on this, it should not be hard to decide who to listen to.
Stay at home. If something would cause an exponential explosion of death if everybody did it, don't imagine you will be the only one to do it. Don't do it.