Now that the COVID-19 lockdown is finally lifting (at least in America)—now that we can look back on a chaotic year and assess policy decisions that were often made hastily, with inadequate information— what lessons can we learn?
Those lessons will be important to learn because although we can hope and pray that the worst of this particular disaster is behind us, there will be another epidemic, sooner or later. For that matter, even if we are spared from epidemics for a few years, even an ordinary seasonal flu will raise questions. Now that precedents have been set, should we close down schools and offices and stores and churches whenever an infectious disease looms?
Bishop Thomas Paprocki made a very useful contribution last September when he invoked the moral distinction between using ordinary and extraordinary means in medical treatment. As a public-health strategy, the lockdown was unquestionably an “extraordinary means.” Was it justified?