LOS ANGELES (March 29, 2020) Sailors assigned to the hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) treat a patient from Los Angeles medical facilities March 29. Mercy deployed in support of the nation’s COVID-19 response efforts, and will serve as a referral hospital for non-COVID-19 patients currently admitted to shore-based hospitals. This allows shore base hospitals to focus their efforts on COVID-19 cases. One of the Department of Defense’s missions is Defense Support of Civil Authorities. DoD is supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the lead federal agency, as well as state, local and public health authorities in helping protect the health and safety of the American people. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Erwin Jacob Miciano)
Last night, Donald Trump’s team unveiled its guidelines for states that wished to re-open their economies to the working public. It is, without a doubt, a step in the right direction, as it gives us a clear plan and allows for local control of the move to get American citizens safely back to work.
Of course, for some people, it is either simply not fast enough or just a reminder that it didn’t have to happen at all, public health experts be damned.
One of the more alarming opinions you see floating around social media, often shouted through the megaphones of pundits who have largely ignored or attacked the experts, is that the illnesses and deaths we would see from reopening the economy immediately are a necessary risk we have to take for the greater good. The people who make statements like this would also call themselves “pro-life,” though sacrificing human life and calling it a victory for the economy is truthfully no better than sacrificing the unborn and calling it a victory for women’s rights. You are dehumanizing some for the greater good of all.
The idea that you are “destroying America” by not opening the country up immediately is absurd. The country has survived worse, and will continue to survive despite this. Any claims that this is “like a bad flu” or that we should stop driving cars because they, too, killed over 30,000 people last year are equally absurb. Neither the flu nor automobiles were responsible for 30,000 deaths in a four week period last year. They were responsible for the deaths of around 30,000 over the course of several months (six months for last flu season, a whole year for automobiles in 2019).
This virus has killed more than 30,000 people in the span of one month, and that’s with social distancing and sheltering in place going into effect. If you think that returning to normal right this minute won’t make that problem worse, you’re in denial over the seriousness of this virus.
Opening up right now, we would see a surge in infections, overwhelmed hospitals, and way more death than we’ve seen so far. Given the rate of this virus’ spread, if you think the economy can’t handle everyone being forced to stay at home, how do you expect the economy to handle hundreds of thousands more people sick and unable to work, with people too terrified to leave their houses instead of being forced to stay home?
At no point has any sane person suggested keeping the economy shut down forever. That is as impossible as expecting life to continue the way it did before this virus was unleashed on us. I’ve said before that we need a plan, and it appears the Trump team once again listened to their health and economic experts and developed a good one.
We can’t just open up overnight. That would create an even worse surge of infection than we’ve already gone through once. To say “Damn the risks!” and go full speed into re-opening right now is reckless and will result in more getting sick and dying.
And, yes, I am fully aware that recessions and depressions will also result in human suffering. This is not an ideal situation. But the risks of causing this virus to surge again outweigh the risks of the economy staying closed another two weeks. Americans can survive that, and we can rebuild from that. We can’t rebuild from a plague devastating our population, which is what we risk.