The reason New York failed to "flatten the curve" and Sweden succeeded probably has little to do with lockdowns.
The author isn't naive. He understands that Sweden's record isn't great compared to the other Scandinavian countries. That's largely because the Swedes--like most others--failed to realize early on where the real danger lay: in the nursing homes. In that sense you could say that their model ended up being successful in some respects more by chance than by planning. Nevertheless, there are important lessons to be learned. Lessons that we in America seem determined to ignore.
Here's the heart of the article:
If flattening the curve was the primary goal of policymakers, Sweden was largely a success. New York, on the other hand, was not, despite widespread closures and strict enforcement of social distancing policies.
The reason New York failed and Sweden succeeded probably has relatively little to do with the fact that bars and restaurants were open in Sweden. Or that New York’s schools were closed while Sweden’s were open. As Weiss explains, the difference probably isn’t related to lockdowns at all. It probably has much more to do with the fact that New York failed to protect the most at-risk populations: the elderly and infirm.
“Here’s the good news: You can shut down businesses or keep them open. Close schools or stay in session. Wear masks or not,” says Weiss, a graduate of Harvard Business School. “The virus will make its way through in either case, [but] if we protect the elderly then deaths will be spared.”
UPDATE: Here's what I mean. There was really no way to know, at the time the pandemic started, that the elderly and infirm would be at grossly disproportionate risk as compared to every other demographic category. After all, for all we knew, this could have turned out to be another 1918, in which the young and healthy were the most at risk. But we did find out. The problem is, that reality was basically hidden from the public for months. Sweden adjusted, we didn't and still haven't in important respects.