I think that the form of the question mischaracterizes the tradeoff.
It’s not “lives or economy”.
Rather, there will be lives lost as a consequence of the shutdown, and there will be food shortages as a consequence.
Lost production will affect distribution of medical supplies and equipment.
The questions are about how much and where, not “if”.
Everyone seems to agree that “the other party” is callous and disregarding the risks.
The fundamental problem is that without knowing the future, we don’t even know what the question is.
Under some factual scenarios consistent with current information, more lives will be lost if we don’t go into hard quarantine, block by block. Others, still consistent, call for city by city and stay in place. Under others, all the isolation does is shut down production of resources that would have been usable to save lives.
The risks and probabilities have to be weighted, and a decision has to be made. Some will be “clearly” wrong in hindsight, when we have more information, and others will be better.
That someone disagrees with “your” analysis doesn’t make them evil, nor does it make them callous. People of good will are going to agree.
About the only things I think we can see with certainty are that,
a) if the west had had more information sooner (or had chosen the analysis that is correct in hindsight out of the conflicting possibilities), we could have clamped down harder and sooner, and
b) that it is just plain nuts under any of the variants that travel to and from NYC (and to a lesser extent, other large cities) continued while other areas shut down.
We don’t know that it wasn’t too late for a full lockdown to do anything two weeks ago. And if the undetected cases were that bad, pretty much everything we’ve done is going to cause more, rather than less, deaths. (Personally, I find this scenario unlikely, as I understand the math of the web of the infection, but it cannot be ruled out a priori).
Anyway, the point is that it is very much not an “economy or lives” tradeoff, both because of the horrifically imperfect information doesn’t let such a calculation be made, and the hard truth that lives will be lost because of the economic damage (and possibly, although I find it unlikely, more lives than had the thing run its course).
[ok, for the record, my own inclination is that hard shutdowns and quarantines of areas with infection, and harsh travel restrictions between areas not known to be essentially infection free, is the most likely path to reducing R from R0 to less than 1 (and particularly less than .5), but that doesn’t mean that those who come to other conclusions are evil, heartless, or even bad at math].
OK, enough for reason; now the usual ideological hatefest may commence . . .