Can’t resist adding this: having spent some time this afternoon driving through central Jersey today–from Whitehouse Station to North Plainfield and back–I have to repeat something I’ve said before: it’s an exaggeration to describe our current situation as a “lockdown.” Like “social distancing,” “lockdown” is a misleading term that’s useful at best as a concession to common usage. (I drove over there to help someone with a medical condition who needed help. I wouldn’t just go out and drive for the fun of it right now.)
Some observations on a 40-mile drive this afternoon: there was plenty of traffic out on Route 22 at that time, and WCBS-AM radio actually mentioned traffic jams in Queens and Brooklyn. Most retail shops along Route 22 were, of course, closed but a surprising number were open–take-out food, car repair stores, gas stations, grocery stores, pet stores, pharmacies, and so on.
To call this a “lockdown” is to confess ignorance as to what a lockdown really looks like.* Acquaintances in New York City say that New Yorkers still don’t seem to get it: they’ve been loathe to let the COVID-19 crisis cut into their precious social lives, and are still hanging out with one another, visiting friends, etc. If you really believe that appeals to moral goodness and voluntary cooperation will induce people to adhere to norms of social distancing, you haven’t spent much time in New Jersey, much less New York. To leave social distancing to voluntary cooperation is like spitting COVID-19 into the wind. Sometimes life is stranger than fiction, and a hell of a lot more depressing.