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The Threat Of Renewed Lockdowns Is Real

One candidate says no more lockdowns, the other wants to put us in plexiglass boxes.

Fuck Cuomo and de Blasio
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ROCHESTER, New York- When New York City locked down back in March I spent two weeks in absolute disbelief. I could understand how China could impose and enforce extended stay-at-home orders — they are an authoritarian regime. I even understood how continental Europe could imprison their populations in their own homes — they are social democracies with populations that typically lean towards collectivism, valuing group symbiosis over individual liberties. I got how the Philippines could declare martial law and threaten to shoot anyone who left their homes or how the police in India could go around clubbing anybody they found in the streets. But America … America is supposed to be something different.

The United States, by designed, was meant to be an experiment in governance. At the time the United States claimed independence, Europeans were living under kings and queens, Middle Easterners had their sultans, and East Asians were kowtowing before emperors. It sounds cliche now, but ideas like “rule by the people for the people” were once very radical.

America was founded on the concepts of self-rule and individualism — on the idea that the mandate to rule didn’t come from the divine but from those who are ruled. This concept led to the creation of one of the most innovative, successful, and free societies the world has ever known.

Even today, the United States is a place where people from all over the world still emigrate in droves to “live free and prosper,” where the rights and liberties of the individual are put on a pedestal above all else.

But this freedom comes with a price — in this case, the lack of authority to lockdown, contact trace, and mandate vaccination for a pandemic … in theory, anyway.

So this past March when I sat in my New York City apartment and looked out at the empty streets down below — at the cops on horseback patrolling my neighborhood to make sure nobody was in the streets, at all of the businesses and places of worship that had to close due to overtly illegal, unconstitutional edicts from the state government — I felt angry. I felt angry because I saw that America was giving up the core principals and values that made it great for a fucking virus.

A fucking virus that most people have a 99.98% chance of surviving.

Give me liberty or give me toilet paper.

But everyone else seemed to be buying in. I felt alone and, eventually, I shut up for a while. Social justice thugs were out attacking anyone who didn’t comply with their moral code, which meshed with that of the state government — flying in the face of science, the available data, and the advice of many epidemiologists. It was a collectivist’s coup d’état: little vigilantes informing on their neighbors for going outside, having guests over to their homes, or, yes, coughing. A hallmark of fascism is that it is often the people — not necessarily the government — that forces the general public to toe the line.

For the first time I felt embarrassed to be an American. Isn’t this the country where everyone is supposed to be armed and at the ready to defend themselves against the vile intrusion of government? Isn’t this the country that’s packed with freedom loving militias who are willing to fight for the values and ideas this country was founded on? Where were all these people? Where they the ones fighting over toilet paper? Was America dead?

For weeks I sat in my room in disbelief. And then things started to rumble a little:

Yes, America is still kicking.

The lockdown in New York City went on for two and a half months as Covid-19 tore through the population as though nothing was done to try to prevent it. There was no indication of intervention measures in the data — no sign of deaths of going down when lockdowns were administered and no sign of deaths going up when the lockdown was eased. It was as if they had no impact at all, while leaving the city in economic ruins.

Florida, meanwhile, had far more liberal Covid restrictions, didn’t trash their economy, and honored something called the US Bill of Rights, which guarantees liberties like free speech, freedom of assembly and religion, and the right to private property. The kicker for New Yorkers is that Florida, while having a similar population density, has a 2.2 times lower per capita Covid-19 death rate.

The lockdowns were not only an affront on human rights and civil liberties but completely unsuccessful. Even the WHO is now warning against them:

“We in the World Health Organization do not advocate lockdowns as the primary means of control of this virus,” Nabarro said.

“The only time we believe a lockdown is justified is to buy you time to reorganize, regroup, rebalance your resources, protect your health workers who are exhausted, but by and large, we’d rather not do it.”

Nabarro said tight restrictions cause significant harm, particularly on the global economy.

“Lockdowns just have one consequence that you must never, ever belittle, and that is making poor people an awful lot poorer,” he said.

“It seems that we may well have a doubling of world poverty by next year. We may well have at least a doubling of child malnutrition.”

But the wise leaders of Europe broke with their own recommendations to follow the advice of the WHO, and have started locking down again. The UK will begin a new lockdown on Nov 5th. Paris has already locked down — the people there are not permitted to step foot outside their homes without required papers. Spain has been placed in a state of emergency until May 9th. The Czech Republic, Ireland, and Italy have followed suit with their one takes on draconianism.

But the people are not taking it this time:

The people of Europe are saying no. “Stop the political mafia, stop the dictatorship,” they chanted in Spain.

What shouldn’t be lost here is that many people in Europe have grown up in the shadow of totalitarian regimes — real fascism, communism … They know what dictatorships look like, and they are refusing to go back.

I am fearful that the more authoritarian Democratic states in the United States may follow their European brethren and attempt renewed lockdowns soon — especially with a Biden win. NYC already re-locked down nine neighborhoods, erroneously (and vilely) scapegoating the city’s Jewish residents for the slight rise in cases:

If more places around the country attempt to lockdown again, it will not go well. We have the data now, we have the knowledge, and I don’t believe the blue tie proto-tyrants will have such an easy time wielding their iron fists.

At various points in American history people felt that the ideas of freedom and liberty were worth dying for. Fuck — we’ve fought wars over it. But as soon as a virus comes around that kills less than 0.03% of people it infects we offer up our hard fought civil rights on a platter.

The liberty to make decisions for yourself — and potentially to put yourself in jeopardy — is the hallmark of a free society. Risks are part of the deal. You can’t have a free society and a nannying government too.

Somewhere along the line many Americans have forgotten who they are and what their country is supposed to be.

On October 22nd, President Trump and Joe Biden stepped onto the stage for the second and final presidential debate and the first question cut to the point: “And we will begin with the fight against the coronavirus…”

One candidate said:

“I say we’re learning to live with it. We have no choice. We can’t lock ourselves up in a basement like Joe does. He has the ability to lock himself up… People can’t do that… 99.9 of young people recover. 99% of people recover. We have to recover. We can’t close up our nation, we have to open our school, and we can’t close up our nation, or you’re not going to have a nation.”

The other guy said:

“The standard is, if you have a reproduction rate in a community that’s above a certain level, everybody says, slow up. More social distancing. Do not open bars and do not open gymnasiums. Do not open until you get this under control, under more control,” and then mumbled something about requiring restaurants to stuff their customers inside of plexiglass boxes.

I know who I’m voting for tomorrow.

Filed under: Epidemics, New York City, Politics, Protests, USA

About the Author:

I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 90 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3632 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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VBJ is currently in: Astoria, New York

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  • Tom November 3, 2020, 7:19 am

    Attempted to donate three times using credit card and notice appeared “ Something went wrong.Try again later”
    Respectfully submitted ,

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    • VBJ November 3, 2020, 8:37 am

      Hello Tom,

      Thanks for letting me know! That’s strange. I recently received other donations that went through so maybe this is a new issue. I will look into it. Thanks!

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    • VBJ November 3, 2020, 11:05 am


      You’re right. The pay by credit or debit card function isn’t working today. As the link to the Paypal site clearly works this seems to be an issue on their end. This is funny as I received a wave of donations after publishing the recent two posts. It’s very odd that there would suddenly be a technical error … but I don’t believe it’s time yet to get paranoid 🙂

      By any chance do you have a Paypal account, and if so could you try to make a donation through the pay by Paypal function?

      Thank you and many apologies for the inconvenience!

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  • Anonymous November 3, 2020, 10:03 am

    Thanks for writing this. I too have been shocked to watch what’s happening around this country, so shocked I’ve been unable to write about it myself. Glad you’ve found your voice.

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    • VBJ November 3, 2020, 11:08 am

      Thank you. Yes, I was shellshocked for a while too. I’m really upset with myself that I didn’t document the lockdown more. I allowed my personal emotions get in the way of my reporting. I stuck my head in the sand and tried to pretend the outside world didn’t exist. I fucked up. But maybe it’s not too late.

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  • Kyle B. November 3, 2020, 11:35 am

    I think you’re playing with the timeline a bit, back in March we were in a much different place than we are now. The death rate was higher because we knew less and there was a lack of clear guidance or proper PPE for the general public. In New York people stayed home from fear but also because everywhere that people go besides supermarkets was closed: restaurants, job sites, theaters, etc.

    My wife and I never stopped going out for our nightly walks until the protests and looting happened, which lasted roughly a week, and were never hassled about it. The protests “broke” the whole voluntary stay at home thing at the same time that schools let out and the weather got nice in May-June. I feel things are much safer and normal now that there are other people around. It was obvious that the curfew didn’t work without “eyes on the street” to deter bad behavior.

    The first steps towards “normal” was reopening schools and the college students returning. Things are not going to get fully back to the way they were here in New York until offices are reopened with proper testing and tourism restarts. I’d like to see a plan for making that happen, which I haven’t seen yet.

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    • VBJ November 3, 2020, 3:18 pm

      Hello Kyle,

      Yes, that’s what I would think too. We should have learned a lot since March and have different strategies for dealing with Covid. But I don’t know if that’s likely. Massachusetts is introducing some lockdown measures again.

      Also, I can’t really make amends for the higher death rate. Florida had Covid at the same time and nobody wore masks, had the same info, but produced far superior results. Same with some other states. I don’t want to start hitting this nail again, but it seems as if one of the things that were different was the criteria for determining Covid deaths in NY. Seems like they over counted by some pretty extreme margins and there may have been (probably were) political reasons behind the way they counted. Also, it probably didn’t help that they put Covid+ patients in nursing homes. Nearly half of NY Covid deaths happened in these places.

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  • Trevor Warman November 3, 2020, 11:36 am

    What a mess…. i’m glad I’m in Turkey

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  • Jack November 12, 2020, 5:46 pm

    For those who haven’t read my many previous comments on this, I am against mandatory masks and lockdowns. Personally, I wear a mask every time I am out in an enclosed place and I am on my own modified lockdown. I just don’t think it should be forced on others. They should be free to make choices, even if I think those choices are asinine.

    As the cases continue to increase at an exponential rate, it’s getting harder and harder to believe that there is a huge pool of people who caught it and were never counted as a positive case. I was saying back in February that October and November was going to see a surge and we are.

    I think we will need to revisit death rates. I’ve been figuring it’s about 0.5% because I have assumed that tests really only caught about 15% of the positive cases. I think I was wrong. I’m thinking that right now we are catching most of the positive cases..and deaths are soaring. With deaths, it takes on average 22 days for someone to die from Covid-19. 22 days ago, we had about 65,000 cases and the surge was just starting. We had about 1480 deaths yesterday. That means our death rate just based on that day is 2.3%. The rate of 2 to 3% has been pretty static since March. They have cut down that rate based on the theory that there is a huge pool of asymptomatic people. Like I said, I think that’s going to be called into question. The death rate of 2 to 3% of all positive cases hasn’t really changed with more testing.

    But like I said here on this site in either April or May, we will see if it returns in the fall or not and just how bad it is. I still hope I am wrong. Either way, stay safe my friends.

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