Today on the menu: America has largely reopened, but the coronavirus pandemic is still ongoing; the dissent and internal criticism of the World Health Organization is getting louder; Elections in Georgia are a mess – apparently many people believe that their local polling station is managed by the office of the Secretary of State; and a Florida city may experience a sudden influx of visitors in late August.
Good luck, America reopened!
Ready or not, the country will open again.
In New Jersey, Governor Phil Murphy lifted the home warrant he issued on March 21. New York City businesses are opening their doors. And in my neck of the forest, Northern Virginia is entering “phase two” This means restaurants can dine at half capacity indoors, and gyms and fitness centers can be reopened at 30 percent indoors.
Many of us on the right have enjoyed mocking the bejeebers of “public health experts” and officials who argued in late May that every reopening was a selfish desire for haircuts and “experiments in human sacrifice“And kill Grandma. . . and then completely changed their tune when George Floyd’s demonstrations started. These public health experts and government officials deserve all the spot and derision they will receive.
The lesson many conservatives had learned from the sudden turnaround was that the threat of the virus had faded significantly, or perhaps had never been so bad because of the government’s warnings, and that the lockdowns had been triggered by power-mad governors who enjoyed it. side effect of the economy fueling months before a Republican president sought reelection. If going to a protest was safe, it is certainly safe to reopen companies and return to something similar to normal life.
The possibility that is receiving less attention is that while the number of new cases and deaths has decreased daily, the virus is still present and dangerous and the protests have not been as safe. In addition to the cases discussed yesterday, an unspecified number of National Guardsmen in Washington, D.C. tested positive for the virus, a demonstrator at a 1,000 people demonstration in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, tested positive, a demonstrator at a demonstration with 800 people in Parsons, Kan., tested positive, a Lincoln, Neb. police officer who worked on the protests was positive (this is separate from the National Guardsmen in that city who tested positive), a Texas National Guardsman assigned to protect the state capital tested positive during protests, and a district commissioner in Athens, Georgia, tested positive after hosting protest events in her city.
Our daily number of new cases remains around 19,000. That’s a smaller amount than most days in April and May, but that was roughly where we were from mid to late March. Our number of active infections has risen around 1.1 million since mid-May. Our daily death toll has been around 1,000 per day since early June. These are better numbers than spring, but you don’t have to good numbers.
The above should not be interpreted as “Jim thinks the locks should have lasted longer.” Pushing was eight weeks; I thought that public obedience to those profound restrictions on public activities would continue until the good weather arrived. We have brought our economy into a coma, destroyed businesses, made millions unemployed, and caused suffering patients to postpone major surgeries and other procedures considered “elective” because they were not life-threatening.
Perhaps the most useful illustration dating back to the onset of the pandemic was the one in the New York Times: “If it were possible to wave a magic wand and leave all Americans in place for 14 days while two feet apart, epidemiologists would say the whole epidemic would come to a halt.“Of course, people have to move, they need contact with their family and loved ones, they have to eat, they have to go to the toilet, they have to sleep, often with each other. In order to function as a human, we must work, which requires that we interact. We would never achieve that impossible epidemiologist ideal of all-encompassing universal uninterrupted social distance. But Americans made one unparalleled effort to stay at home and avoid interactions, almost uniformly across all states, well before their state governments ordered them to.
Most conservatives remember the slogan “fourteen days to slow down the spread.” The strictest restrictions on human activity had to gain time for our leaders to come up with a better plan. We needed a way of living and working that would minimize and reduce the risk of infection because there was no way to eliminate the risk of infection.
Maximum lockdowns were never a realistic long-term option, but apparently quite a few governors thought they could go on for as long as needed. The term “shelter in place” was previously associated with tornadoes and active shooters – the type of threat resolved in minutes or hours, not weeks and months.
The end of our patience would never coincide with the end of the pandemic. Yes, warmer weather is likely to help some, along with more Americans spending more time outdoors. In some parts of the country, many people still wear masks; in other parts of the country, not so much. Ending the insane policy of returning infectious patients to nursing homes will significantly help reduce mortality.
But. . . the virus is still there. The fact that people prefer to play an American version of the Cultural Revolution of China, complete with public ‘wrestling sessions,’ or watch footage of a police officer pushing an elderly person in Buffalo as if it were the Zapruder movie, or removing the television show Law enforcement from the ether – because bringing camera crews along with police officers somehow makes possible police brutality – does not change the virus and its spread. Ben Shapiro famously said, “facts don’t care about your feelings.” Many people responded effectively, “our feelings don’t care about your facts.”
Arizona’s largest health system said it did achieved capacity for their lung machines. In South Carolina, six counties have a hospital bed occupancy of over 80 percent, and one is approaching its full capacity. (Hospital officials point out that part of this influx reflects the return of patients needing elective procedures delayed during quarantine.) Hospitals in Imperial County, California reached capacity and began transferring patients to other counties. The major hospitals in Alabama operate at peak capacity and have two unused ICU beds since yesterday.
Notice how much you hear about the coronavirus that is directly comparable to how severely it affects New York City, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles.
The difference of opinion within the WHO is getting louder
Did you know the The World Health Organization approved the wearing of masks in public to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. . . just last Friday? Until last week, WHO formally refused to endorse that step of disease prevention. (Aim the mask skeptics on the right and say, “Hey wait, maybe these WHO doctors and bureaucrats aren’t that bad after all!”)
Even doctors who love the WHO and are opposed to ending US funding for the international organization cannot help but notice how often WHO falls on the job – first in imitation of China, then reluctant to endorse masks and now with confusing and seemingly contradictory statements about the risk of spread by asymptomatic carriers. Even WHO officials wonder what the heck is going on with their leadership.
Lawrence Gostin, director of the WHO Collaborating Center on National and Global Health Law, told it New York Times, “When they bring up things that are clearly contradicted by the scientific establishment without any justification or mention of studies, this significantly reduces their credibility.“
Who leads the election process where you live?
You will hear a lot about the problems with the primaries in Georgia yesterday, especially in “largely minority areas” – long waiting times, poorly trained staff, malfunctioning voting machines and ballot shortages.
You won’t hear much about it how voting hours, voting locations, delivery of ballots, voting machines and staff training are controlled by the provinces. District officials currently argue that Georgia’s Republican Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger, is the problem.
Who will stop these provinces from opening more polling stations? Who will stop these provinces from ordering more ballots, hiring and training more staff, or extending their hours to vote?
Elected officials at all levels take advantage of the fact that so many Americans have no idea who is doing what at any level of government.
ADDENDUM: Good news for. . . Jacksonville hotels? The Washington Post reports that it is almost a “deal” to bring the 2020 Republican National Convention to the city of Florida.