But blindly shutting down larger portions of a state instead of taking more measured responses until there was a clearer picture (like there is now) is irresponsible.
The problem is that exponential growth makes this very difficult: if it turns out to be a nothing-burger, you over-reacted and potentially destroyed your economy for a couple years. But if not, you accidentally killed a lot of people and destroyed your economy (because dead people don't contribute to the economy). It's a tough baby to split, and I don't envy anyone who had to make those choices.
I will bet anyone that more people die in Ohio from drug overdose this year than Covid-19.
Sadly this is probably true. Drug overdose victims are making choices—not always the ones they want to make, of course, nor the ones they would make with a structurally different world. But I would guess a smaller percentage of people make the choice to infect themselves with COVID-19.
This is not merely an issue of actuarial deaths. Is it an actuarial issue? Yes, of course. We don't shut the economy down because of the flu, even though it also grows exponentially (albeit with different parameters). Our culture has changed, too, since today it feels (wrongly) that death is somehow optional. Maybe we also value our freedom less compared to earlier generations (some things are worth dying for), or we don't understand it as well (all freedom comes with duty).
How about dealing with that emergency instead of destroying countless lives with overreactions based on cya considerations.
Yeah, it would be nice. Government isn't a substitute for the social fabric we need to hold a community together: it's a product of that fabric (since, after all, we are the government). Government can't replace family members or friends or churches or gyms or workplaces. It can institute policies designed to promote those relationships (e.g., child tax credit, marriage benefits, social security, corporate tax benefits tied to employment, et c.), but those policies aren't culture. I don't know that any culture can be fixed with money or programs: you gotta change the people.