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Joe Nocera

Lockdowns Haven’t Proved They’re Worth the Havoc

The U.S. survived the 1968 pandemic without shutting down society, and there isn’t much evidence that shutdowns are truly effective this time. 

Empty streets may not be the answer.

Empty streets may not be the answer.

Photographer: Demetrius Freeman/Bloomberg

My junior and senior years in high school were 1968 and 1969; five decades later, I can still remember some of the main events of that era: the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy, the bombing of Cambodia, the Apollo 8 spaceflight that orbited the moon, and Woodstock, which I pleaded with my parents to let me attend. (They said no.)

In my personal life, I remember playing on the basketball team, buying my first car, working in my family’s corner grocery store and wishing I had the nerve to ask certain girls out on a date. Here’s what I don’t remember: the pandemic of 1968-1969.