Unwarranted overconfidence is harmful

This is an underreported story. Why does the US have 5% of the global population, but 31% of the COVID-19 cases and 28% of the COVID-19 deaths? Per an article in The Guardian, the rest of the world is “horrified” by the US response. We must be smart about how we reopen, not falling into an overconfident trap thinking that we solved this pandemic problem. Unwarranted overconfidence, bordering on arrogance, is harmful to our country.

But, let’s set that aside and look at a sports story as an example. Before the 1978 Cotton Bowl game, Fred Akers, coach of the number one ranked Texas Longhorns was on a pre-game talk show for a NFL football game. He was joined by soft-spoken Dan Devine, the coach of the number five ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish. The announcers went out of their way to ask how Devine felt since they did not stand a chance against the heavily-favored Longhorns. Devine was polite and said we would just do our best. Akers was smiling, but very confident in manner, even smug. Notre Dame went on to win 38 to 10, in a blowout over the heavily-favored Texas team.

I often use this example. Overconfidence is a dangerous factor. Right now, people are pushing to reopen the country, which we must do, but do so with a judicious and sensible approach. We have not solved the COVID-19 problem in the US actually handling it much more poorly than other countries. Brazil and Russia are handling it badly, as well, but they trail the US. What we have done is managed the problem with social distancing and closing stores, but we have not solved it. The hotter weather is supposed to help, but gathering in groups with no protection or distancing will have the opposite effect.

So, it worries me greatly when too many folks are far more cavalier than they should be about getting out in public. It worries me that too many people listen to a president push for things misrepresenting daily where we are. And, it goes on down the line. Taking the president at his word is a fool’s errand. Taking health care advice from the president can be very bad for your health. Yes, we must open up some, but we must be very smart about how we do it. We need to be smart about where we go, how we act, how we protect ourselves, etc. And, we need to be the smart ones in the room, with too many people in leadership positions not shooting straight with us.

The world is right to be horrified. They see the machinations of an untrustworthy US leader who dropped the ball when he actually could have led. Fortunately, governors of both parties, healthcare professionals and citizens have picked up the ball the president dropped. So, if someone tells you what a great job the president is doing, ask that person to respond to those relative percentages in the first paragraph. We lost six weeks of planning due to this president and the misinformation continues to this day. His mission one focus is getting reelected, not helping people.