A Programmer’s Approach To The Lockdown

Hashamen Shwarma Bar - Jerusalem - CLOSED due to the lockdown. (courtesy)

tl;dr – In order to minimize economic, social, and psychological damage, I believe that ONLY the largest vectors of coronavirus spread should be locked down. The available data tells us that most transmission and infection happens indoors where groups of people congregate. If we only locked down these places, then practically it would mean closing/forbidding:

On-site schools and universities, indoor cafes, bars, & restaurants (socially distanced outdoors is fine), offices, workplaces with more than three people indoors, and guests to your home.

Everything else should remain open!

The Lockdown should only last 2-3 weeks, which would allow the contact tracing and medical systems to catch up to the current spike, and then everyone under the age of 55 should go back to work, since the risk for them is substantially lower (see the data on deaths by age range).

We need to keep our country moving because we cannot sacrifice the future for the sake of the present.

Some Background

I am a software engineer, and have devoted the last 10 years of my life to learning and implementing logical structures.

Being a programmer in a modern development team teaches you many, many skills, and lots of them have absolutely nothing to do with programming. Here are three:

1. Have a Well-Reasoned Argument

Working as part of a dev team teaches you how to present a well-reasoned argument, because if your supportive points are less than optimal, the other highly-analytical and naturally combative engineers will tear you to shreds. Quite quickly, you learn that if you are badly prepared for a serious technical discussion, the wolves will eat you for dinner.

2. Support Your Hypothesis With Data

One facet of this preparation is that you generally must support your hypothesis with data, and during the tedious design and planning meetings (curse them), you need to use the data to win over your team members as well as your engineering manager to your side – proving that your perspective is the best out of the bunch being offered.

3. Consider The Risk

In addition to the data, a major topic often discussed is risk. Adopt a new, poorly tested library and you could open a security hole, which eventuates in you getting hacked. Choose a well tested, legacy library that is highly complex and very difficult to learn, and you could slow down development speed, causing the company to run out of money.

Here is an example of a good argument:

I believe that we should use Library-X for our upcoming project, because it offers us the functionality we need and it adheres to our development methodologies (well-reasoned). It is actually 10% smaller in file size than the library we currently use, so it will increase load speed (data). Also, it has been used for a few years, so it is stable and secure (risk).

Now, let’s apply these criteria to the government’s newly implemented lockdown:

Well-Reasoned Argument

The government has not explained WHY each rule in their lockdown is necessary. For instance, if a felafel stand has only two workers, and all customers must wait in the street, socially distanced, then why does that make this a dangerous business regarding coronavirus transmission?! And yet, they have all been ordered to be closed.

This has led to the government’s OWN coronavirus czar publicly claiming that he didn’t suggest this extremist lockdown.

Support Your Hypothesis With Data

The government hasn’t explained their decision by pointing to the successes or failures of other lockdown models and using those to substantiate their claim that a total lockdown is necessary. No supporting data has been offered that would convince the general public that this will be an effective measure.

What Risks Are Involved

The government has not publicly discussed the risks of their approach, and why it will be worth the cost.

Sometimes money saved is worth the loss of human life – let me tell you why:

If the economy is shattered because of the lockdown and 30% – 40% of small businesses go bankrupt and close, the millions of people affected by this will become sick with depression and anxiety as a direct result, and many of them will turn to alcohol and drugs, which in turn will raise the amount of domestic violence, suicide, and crime.

Quite simply, people will suffer and die, even though they don’t have coronavirus, and the society as a whole will begin to unravel and fall into decay.

Tell me honestly: how long do you think a weak and divided Israel will survive in the war-torn Middle-East?

Conclusion

The Israeli government’s chosen course of action is illogical and entirely needless. There is no data to support the claim that this is the best solution for the country long-term, and even our most trusted medical officials disagree with the plan. The risk involved in an extreme lockdown is far too high, and provides little to no reward.

If my approach at the beginning of this article was adopted, the economy would not suffer such a catastrophic hit, people would not be forced into as much loneliness, anxiety, and depression, and coronavirus would still be effectively combated, according to the data available on modes of transmission.

About the Author
Software Engineer with an optimistic streak and a penchant for philosophy. One of my core beliefs is that we have a responsibility to our family, our community, and our nation to be the best people we can be.
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