The Memo that Closed the Nation’s Schools
Early in the pandemic response, a group of intellectuals, public health officials, federal law enforcement employees, and university professionals began an email chain to which many people were added over time. It was the so-called Red Dawn email list.
One of the most active members was Carter Mecher, the Veterans Administration consultant with a 15-year history of punditry for pandemic response. He was a disciple of the first generation of lockdown advocates led by Robert Glass. Mecher is the hero of Michael’s Lewis’s book Premonition because in 2020, he was more aggressive than anyone else in these circles in warning of dire consequences from not locking down.
Mecher is very likely the author of the memo embedded below because the language in several paragraphs is nearly identical to emails sent to the list on March 10, 2020. This memo was likely sent as an attachment and, for whatever reason, was not included in the FOIA dump. It is posted here for inclusion in the documentary history.
Here the author makes the most extended case for closing schools, presumably for one week but with no clear method for determining when they should open up. The author argues that lockdowns absolutely must include shutting the schools. Whether and to what extent this is the memo that inspired the extreme reaction is difficult to say but the recipients were among the most influential people in the actions that followed.
“Just watch kids with runny noses and coughing and sneezing and touching one another (especially the younger ones),” the memo says. “You couldn’t design a better system to spread disease. Schools and daycare centers are clearly amplifiers of disease transmission…. We can guarantee that if the US does not close schools now, they will eventually close all the schools and universities out of desperation…. We don’t need to exhaust ourselves searching for perfect solutions to address all these challenges associated with the 2nd and 3rd order consequences of school closure.”