England has been hit as hard as anyone by the pandemic. Initially, they seemed not to take it any more seriously than we did. Their initial approach was to rely on “herd immunity,” which a population achieves after a great number have caught the disease and gained immunity.

The government didn’t mention that more British citizens would die than had in World War II in order to achieve this. They now have the second highest number of deaths of any nation other than ours.

Sunday night British Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressed his nation. He praised the response of the public so far in “bending the curve” in terms of new cases. He attributed it to social distancing, the wearing of masks, an absence of public gatherings and the performance of the National Health Service. He identified the nation’s objective as the public health of the nation. He asked people who could work safely to do so and discussed a number of ways to achieve that. He predicted that restrictions would be eased, but said that would not be soon and would be slow, careful and phased.

Most of all, decisions on opening the economy and public life would be based on data — not on a wish that the danger was over. He said the brakes on reopening would go back on immediately if the data indicated a danger to the public.

Lastly, he expressed confidence that prosperity would return and he thanked numerous groups from supermarket cashiers to doctors for their part in keeping the nation going. It is a short talk, worth watching and you can find it online.

Fighting this virus has been a tough job and I’ve been trying to give our president the benefit of my support, or at least silence. That we can have any national objective above our health and that we can base our decisions on anything but science astounds me. Yet we seem to. It’s amazing our president undermines governors who are working hard to help us, by tweeting “Free Virginia.”

Boris Johnson hasn’t always been this clear about the decision-making principles regarding COVID-19. A personal experience with a ventilator seems to have shown him the light. I hope two White House aides testing positive provides enough experience with the disease to focus our leader on the right things.


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