Michael hasn’t touched ­another human being since March, and he doesn’t know when he will again. He hasn’t seen his wife, two children or ­aging parents in six months. When he does see them again, it will only be for an hour, every two weeks, with no physical contact allowed. The price for keeping Michael safe from COVID-19 is very steep.

Michael is in a federal correctional facility upstate. He is serving a long sentence for a financial crime. The prison is locked down to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. But like many of the guidelines of our panicked moment, the rules are arbitrary. Michael is my longtime friend, and he has been writing to me about his experience.

From March until August, he was allowed outdoors for only an hour every three days. Now the inmates are allowed outside for an hour a day. Shouldn’t outdoor time be maximized, since we now know outdoor transmission is minimal, often nonexistent?

The inmates have had no rehabilitative, educational or recreational activities since March. Medical care is limited. Dental visits are completely shut down. No group religious services are allowed.

It’s too easy to dismiss the well-being of prisoners. But this treatment is plainly inhumane and an ­illustration of how we have shut down life to stave off COVID-19 death. We want to protect our most vulnerable populations. But other things matter, too.

In August, a friend of mine named Matthew visited his grandmother at her nursing home. He applied for the lottery, which would grant him visitation, a week in advance. The three slots an hour fill up quickly. If your relatives are slow to respond, too bad.

The half-hour visit, held in a ­giant ballroom so three residents could each have two visitors, was over quickly. Matthew’s grandmother didn’t understand why they had to stay six feet apart and wear masks.

Matthew says positive things about the procedures at the home, and his paramount worry is getting his grandmother sick. But as he tells me in an interview, “you need a reason to live, and when you lose interaction, you lose that reason.”

We are caught up in what is ­“essential,” and what is “nonessential,” during a pandemic. But those words don’t capture the full, textured reality of human life.

At least, not as our public authorities define them. Personal contact and human interaction are essential. And we face serious consequences from cutting people off.

Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous are still largely holding virtual meetings. As Sarah Pulliam Bailey reported in The Washington Post, the groups are struggling to find new members in this virtual space. Holding hands during prayer and hugging is a large part of the in-person meetings. The physical connection matters so much.

In April, Gov. Cuomo dismissed a range of concerns on the ground that none is as bad as death: “Economic hardship, yes, very bad, not death. Emotional stress from being locked in a house, very bad, not death. Domestic violence on the increase, very bad, not death.”

But people do die from loneliness. Prisoners, nursing-home residents and those struggling with ­addiction have been forgotten.

In some states, such as Minnesota, “COVID-19 social isolation” is listed as one of the causes of death on death certificates. And the AARP says that without family visitation, coupled with a lack of communal meals and groups in nursing homes, “feelings of loneliness, abandonment, despair and fear among residents — and their toll on physical and neurological health — are only pushing the pandemic’s death toll higher.”

So, yes, governor, death.

While nationwide statistics on the suicide rate in prisons for 2020 aren’t yet available, there’s a lot of evidence predicting a spike. Studies have previously shown links between social isolation and suicide, particularly in our jails. So, yes, governor, death again.

And White House drug czar Jim Carroll told me he’s worried about drug overdose numbers for this year. “Last year, overdose deaths dropped for the first time in 29 years under the Trump administration. Now that number is likely going to go up.” Carroll added, “It’s easy to get caught up in numbers, but these are people.” So, yes, governor, death, death, death.

We need a more humane way forward. Death from COVID-19 isn’t the only thing we need to fear.