An eager reader sends me to articles: one with Bloomberg’s observations on Governor Kristi Noem’s tyrannical, murderous, but useful-as-counterexample experiment in herd immunity:
As many as 2 in 5 residents of the state have been infected, turning it into an unwitting experiment in herd immunity as Governor Kristi Noem refused to mandate safety precautions. The numbers are that bad or worse on the reservation, and its residents’ painful experience shows the steep cost of building up antibodies through laissez-faire policies.
…Noem said she wasn’t imposing her views, but rather respecting personal freedom, and her stance made her an instant celebrity on conservative media—catapulting her into the conversation for the 2024 presidential race. In the end, the predictable thing happened: Given a long leash, South Dakotans used masks sparingly and most made few changes to their daily lives, surveys and mobility data show. Even those who tried to follow experts’ guidance were engulfed in an epic surge.
…Some opponents of strict Covid measures argued that society would have attained herd immunity faster if the virus was just allowed to run its course. Ultimately, South Dakota’s strategy translated into about 1 in 500 residents dead, plus many more hospitalized or living with long-term effects.
Four Northeastern states and Mississippi still have worse per capita deaths over the course of the pandemic. But the Northeastern deaths unfolded in dense urban settings in March and April when little was known of the virus and there was little testing; South Dakota’s peak occurred a half year later when masks had been proven effective and testing was widely available [Jonathan Levin and Dawnee Lebeau, “Covid’s South Dakota Rampage Created a Failed Experiment in Herd Immunity,” Bloomberg, 2021.02.03].
…and another with Alan Guebert’s August observation that Governor Noem has viewed our lives with more reckless contempt than real ranchers have for their livestock:
Two generations ago, no one in the cattle business ever thought “herd immunity” was a solution to bovine brucellosis. Instead, farmers and ranchers, often with the help of U.S. Department of Agriculture veterinarians, blood-tested every animal they could find to discover, trace, and isolate the disease’s source and spread.
It was hard, dirty work but it was the best science available until a vaccine virtually eliminated the costly disease.
Today, more than a few politicians suggest herd immunity as an effective way to fight America’s again-raging Covid-19 pandemic. These folks can’t be farmers or ranchers because, if they were, they’d know rural people aren’t as cavalier about the lives of their animals as some politicians seem to be about the lives of their constituents [Alan Guebert, “We Don’t Even Choose ‘Herd Immunity’ for Livestock,” The Land of Milk and Uncle Honey, 2020.08.14].
If Kristi Noem had ever actually run a livestock operation, her cattle never would have made it to market, because she’s unwilling to make the hard decisions and do the hard work necessary to take care of living creatures.