Before we get started, I want to emphasize that I believe Coronavirus is a real threat. People are dying, livelihoods destroyed, entire nations’ economies are on the verge of collapse, and governments around the world are piling on more and more debt in an attempt to keep the systems going. The big question is not “What should be done?” everyone agrees that his virus needs to be stopped. But the big question is “How should it be done?” I think that generally speaking, we can break down the approaches to dealing with COVID-19 into two different camps.
First, forced quarantine. This is the most common approach, you have mayors, governors, presidents and prime ministers declaring quarantines, stay at home/shelter in place orders, and forcing businesses to shut their doors, fining/arresting people who are outside, or prohibiting the selling of ‘non-essential items,’ for example, in Michigan they are not only forcing companies to shut their doors, causing many people to lose their jobs/companies. Those few that the government thinks are appropriate to remain open are being told they can’t see non-essential items, aka they won’t allow Wal-Mart to sell seeds! Or in Missippi they are ticketing people who are going to drive-in church services.
Entire countries are shutting down. The assumption is that people will not voluntarily choose to quarantine so a stay-at-home order must be in place. In Salt Lake City they have even set up ways for people to report their neighbors breaking the orders. Turning neighbor against neighbor. Salt Lake City is just one example, governments around the world are stepping up enforcement of these orders with heavy-handed tactics including arresting, fining, and in some countries literally shooting people who don’t follow their plan to stop the spread of coronavirus. All notions of ‘rights’ have been suspended in pursuit of ‘flattening the curve.’
The second camp believes that COVID-19 is real, but that the shutting down of entire economies is not the solution. They believe that we should socially distance, but that business should be able to figure out the best way to operate to ensure that the economic fallout does not cost more human lives than the disease. This group believes that you should take every reasonable measure to flatten the curve, but that it is not right for governments to suspend rights and force you to do so, they believe it should be voluntary. This is not to say the elected officials could not issue warnings, but the authoritarian tactics we are seeing would be off the table.
Within the second group falls the Church’s approach. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint’s has been closely monitoring the situation with the Coronavirus. Months ago they were quarantining missionaries, closing temples, and suspending services in Asia to be good global citizens and help stop the spread. Once Coronavirus broke out in Italy they pulled missionaries and suspended church services, again to be good global citizens. And finally, when Coronavirus hit the USA, before anyone was even worried about it, they suspended all Church services. They then recalled all missionaries to their home countries, and ultimately closed all the temples. All of these actions were voluntary and in an attempt to be a good global citizen.