Here’s a big thank you to Sweden for volunteering to be a pandemic guinea pig.
The small (10 million) Scandinavian nation decided to plot its own route, declining to join its neighbors, and most of the West, in quarantine, by not locking down its citizenry and halting its economy.
So far, so good, say the Swedes, causing us to examine what we have done to ourselves. But things described by the government are not always as they seem. We will take a deep dive in a minute.
We don’t have to cross the Atlantic to find a canary for our coal mine. We just have to look to Georgia, which will be become America’s “No. 1 death destination,” according to the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank, no stranger to liberal overstatement.
Stick a peach in it, says Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp.He has his own ideas about safety.
There are eight other states playing Russian Roulette — North and South Dakota, Wyoming, Utah, Nebraska, Iowa, Oklahoma, and Arkansas, which are russet potatoes. Georgia’s population is more than twice the biggest of these, Oklahoma at 3.9 million, and Georgia is far less isolated.
I’m not saying that what happens in Iowa doesn’t count. I am saying what happens in Georgia, and Sweden, counts more.
In Sweden, known mostly for neutrality, smorgasbord and blue-eyed blondes, kept open restaurants, night clubs, and shops, along with schools for students under 16, as the pandemic raged. The strategy, according to the country’s chief epidemiologist, was to develop herd immunity, and that is expected in the capital of Stockholm within two weeks. That’s what I heard.
But . . . .
Sweden’s 1,937 deaths is tragically higher numerically and proportionally than its locked-down neighbors Denmark (population 5.8 million, 370 deaths) and Finland (population 5.5 million, 141 deaths). By population, you would expect Sweden to have twice the deaths of its neighbors. It has six times more than Denmark and almost 10 times that of Finland.
Are those numbers something to brag about? I don’t think so.
Put another way, Sweden’s deaths per capita is double that of the United States: .21 to our .09 per 1,000. Double our death rate, fans of lowering precautions.
So now we are back to Georgia, whose governor is tight with President Donald J. Trump.
That relationship presented the oddity at Wednesday’s news briefing of Trump saying he “disagrees strongly” with Kemp, a couple of days after tweeting he wished some governors would “liberate” their states. But those were Democratic governors and Kemp is a Republican and if you think that doesn’t matter, you are not thinking. So Friday Georgia will open some businesses, including bowling alleys, nail salons, and, of course, all-important tattoo parlors.
“I love these people. Tattoo parlors. Bikers for Trump, a lot of them have tattoos,” Trump said with perfect seriousness. And they probably do.
For the record, Georgia’s early opening violates the guidelines that Trump announced at a briefing just last week.
The results will be known a few days after it happens.
Let’s hope the results are better than Sweden’s.