Connecticut doesn't audit the performance of any of its major and expensive state government policies – not education, not welfare, not urban – but now would be a pretty good time for state government to audit its response to the virus epidemic.
For the epidemic has consumed nearly two years of state government's focus, impairing everything important –commerce, schools, mental health, social order, and basic liberty and democracy themselves – only for all official efforts to fail to stop the spread of the virus. New daily confirmed cases in Connecticut in the last week averaged almost 4,000, the most yet, and weekly "virus-associated" deaths are double what they were only a few weeks ago.
An increase in infections might have been expected as colder weather pushed people closer together indoors and because of the December holidays. But then a decline in infections also might have been expected because of the state population's high degree of vaccination and face-masking – that is, might have been expected if vaccines and face-masking really work.
But even government and government-friendly medical officials admit that the vaccines are quickly losing effect. Needing frequent "boosters," they aren't half as good as traditional vaccines, and there is growing concern that too many "boosters" may damage the human immune system.
This doesn't mean that the vaccines and masks haven't helped or that the epidemic might not be worse without them. It means that another approach to the epidemic is necessary – greater emphasis on therapies, of which there are many, and not only the antiviral pills just developed by pharmaceutical giants Pfizer and Merck, which, like the vaccines themselves, are not yet adequately tested and thus full of risk.
Even government-friendly medical authorities acknowledge the correlation between virus infection and deficiency in Vitamin D, the "sunshine vitamin," especially in people with dark complexions, and many authorities recommend strengthening the immune system with Vitamin D and C and zinc supplements. Natural and manmade antivirals and anticoagulants abound and many studies have found them effective against the virus, especially if administered soon after infection.
Unfortunately at the outset of the epidemic, when medicine did not understand the virus, patients were commonly told only to go home and take cold medicine and return to a doctor or hospital if their symptoms worsened. But when their symptoms worsened, it was often too late to save them.
Now treatment is more sophisticated. On any particular day infections in Connecticut may increase by thousands but hospitalizations and deaths by only a few. On some days infections soar but hospitalizations decline. Many infected people have no symptoms and nearly all people survive infection.
Even government-friendly medical authorities also acknowledge the correlation between virus fatalities and "co-morbidities" like obesity and diabetes, which most people could control.
Governor Lamont announced last week that state government soon will distribute, without charge, millions of masks and virus tests that can be taken at home. While the tests may be helpful, there is no shortage of masks and the virus penetrates them easily. It might be far better for state government to help people understand that their immune systems and general fitness may be defenses as good as if not better than masks and vaccines, and if state government distributed free immunity-boosting vitamins and supplements and even gym memberships.
State and local government officials and the medical authorities on whom they rely have done their best in circumstances that have no precedent in living memory. But their good intentions don't vindicate mistakes.
Despite lockdowns, mandatory masks, vaccines, "boosters," and damage to society that will not be repaired for many years, Connecticut and the country are facing more virus infections than ever. So government should start questioning its policies and assumptions about the epidemic, including the assumption that the epidemic is so deadly that combating it must take priority over all other objectives in life.
What isn't working needs to change, if only to set an example for the other things in state government that, after long experience, don't work except to sustain the government itself.
Chris Powell is a columnist for the Journal Inquirer in Manchester.