What COVID-19 Can Teach Us About Curbing Gun Violence

What COVID-19 Can Teach Us About Curbing Gun Violence

Protest following Parkland, Fl. school shootings., Feb. 2018. Photo by Barry Stock via Flickr What can the criminal justice system learn from the COVID-19 pandemic? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has begun to relaxed health guidelines. In fact, some states have “fully reopened.” Even as President Joe Biden has acknowledged that his July 4 goal of vaccinating 70 percent of Americans will fall short, many other states are planning for a return to normalcy. The RAND Corporation created a COVID-19 model to analyze what could happen with coronavirus deaths in the United States if the restrictions—capacity limits on businesses, closed schools, mask mandates—all go away on July 4. Based on RAND’s model, fully reopening an economy before the target is met would double the average number of COVID-19 deaths between Independence Day and the end of the year. We know from history that relaxing in the face of a pandemic is deadly. Pittsburgh’s experience during the 1918 Spanish flu offers some insight. According to Eric Jaffe’s Blog, Sidewalk Talk : Motivated largely by political factors and local business interests, Pittsburgh leaders pushed for an end to its gathering ban before the state health department believed it was safe to do so. As a result Pittsburgh suffered a devastating second wave of the Spanish flu. The city ended with “the worst rate of ‘excess’ deaths among American cities: 807 per 100,000 people. Will policymakers make the same mistake dealing with violence as their predecessors had with pandemic […]

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