Politics drives the end of covid mitigation. It should — but that’s too bad

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The pandemic has given Americans a refresher course in federalism, reminding us of the central importance of governors, even if Washington made many of the most consequential decisions, like spurring vaccine development. But it is also testing American attitudes about whether elected officials or infectious-disease experts should call the shots.

Structurally, the task should fall to elected officials, whose jobs require them to assess the trade-offs of a decision like limiting in-person restaurant dining. How much will it limit the spread? How many lives will be saved? How many jobs will be lost? How many businesses will go under?

Politicians get the last word for the same reason the Constitution anoints the president commander in chief and reserves the power to declare war for Congress — they’re directly accountable to the voters. The experts are not.

But ideally pandemic decisions should also be shaped by public…

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