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Opinion

Letters to the Editor: Car crashes aren’t contagious. Stop comparing coronavirus to them

COVID-19 testing site
Healthcare workers at a COVID-19 testing site in Boyle Heights get a drive-by salute from the LAPD and members of the community on May 6.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Finance Professor S. Abraham Ravid’s letter on economic cost-benefit analysis regarding the coronavirus lockdowns was on the mark, initially. He highlighted the uncomfortable economic decisions that we must face in short order if a vaccine or effective treatment protocol is not available soon.

I was astonished, however, when he ran off the rails and appealed to a false equivalency between COVID-19 and car crash fatalities with regard to the manner in which healthcare policy is crafted.

He expressed his incredulity over the fact that we seem to be treating the two issues differently, when it should be clear to even the most casual observer that they are indeed vastly different avenues to our own mortality. Car crashes are not contagious, nor do they overwhelm our nation’s healthcare system.

Dan Riesgo, San Clemente

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To the editor: Ravid’s letter to the editor is based on the common faulty analogy comparing a stable, well understood phenomenon — automobile deaths — with the deaths from the dynamic, rapidly growing and poorly understood COVID-19 pandemic.

He compares the number of COVID-19 deaths, which started in the state last March and are increasing with no end in sight, to the stable number of automobile deaths that are due to known risk factors. Automobile deaths began more than a century ago and have been subject to a tremendous amount of analysis and regulation in order to control them.

If the same rate of deaths from auto accidents in 1965 was applied to California today, the 3,600 who were killed in 2018 would be nearly 20,000 this year. If the rate of automobile deaths in March of this year suddenly began to increase exponentially and the causes and solutions could not be immediately determined, you had better believe that drastic steps would be taken.

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Craig Horton, Los Angeles


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