People Are Still Dying From Covid-19, So Why Is America Reopening?

Four words: Acceptable rate of loss

Scott Woods


Photo: Getty Images

Update 6/7/22: Level has a new home. You can read this article and other new articles by visiting

With more states removing mask mandates and other Covid-19 restrictions in coming weeks, I’ve suddenly found myself in a number of discussions about next steps: How swiftly should schools open? For small business, is this good news or a death sentence? Will live music return with the numbers it needs to staunch the bleeding of closing venues? How can we ever know who in the room is actually vaccinated?

But none of that is what I want to talk about. I want to talk about what’s underneath all of those questions, about why this is happening the way that it’s happening right now.

I live in Ohio. We’re catching about the same daily rate of cases as we were in October 2020 — an average of about 1,100 cases daily over a seven-day period. Everyone thought that was a terrifying rate back in October because it was, and still should be, but isn’t because we’re Ohioans and we like to eat out a lot. There are a handful of ways to parse that data out for whatever debate you’re looking for, but that’s essentially what’s happening: Things are opening back up and every authority responsible for guidelines…