One of the reasons I don’t write more regularly is that I don’t like to repeat myself. Too much of what I read on current affairs is people banging the same drum about systemic racism, or taxation being theft, or whatever.
But I’ll repeat myself a bit here.
We need to end this emergency soon.
The virus is a force of nature at this point: the government cannot protect us from it. The one thing that the government might be able to do is forestall a disaster such as happened in China, Italy, and Spain, where so many people got sick at once as to overwhelm the health care system. It doesn’t take that many people for that to happen: if 1% of a community got sick and descended on its hospitals all at once, the result would be worse than anything seen so far.
That, fortunately, hasn’t happened, although for a handful of New York City hospitals, it got close. The number of new cases is starting to level off, and the number of hospitalizations is dropping, never having gotten close to the available space. The Navy hospital ship Comfort, having arrived in New York City at the end of March to supplement available hospital space, is leaving, having treated a grand total of 179.
About a week ago, Governor Cuomo extended the emergency two weeks, to 15 May. And if current trends hold, that’s a good place to start. I don’t expect all the restrictions to be lifted at once, and even if they were, the public would likely still avoid large gatherings like sporting events. But I’m hoping that a month from now, I can take my wife to dinner.
Every state is different, and under our republic, decisions like this are made on the state level. New York has suffered, and is recovering, but for other states, the worst may be yet to come. And for some states, ‘the worst’ may not be that severe to begin with.
43 of the 50 states implemented some form of stay-at-home order in response to the coronavirus. At the time, we weren’t sure what would happen. We didn’t have, as I sometimes like to say at work, the dimensions of the problem.
Meanwhile, there are the seven states, and Sweden, that didn’t force everyone to stay at home. Most of the states in question are sparsely populated, but Sweden isn’t that sparse, and has some major cities. Even though they didn’t have Uncle Andy’s guidance, they didn’t get whomped like New York City.
Our understanding now is still incomplete, but way better than what we had a month ago. To those who say, ‘the science should determine when it’s safe to reopen,’ I’m compelled to point out that any decision of this nature is an exercise in risks and statistics. (Statistics is a science, too!) Even deciding to wait for a vaccine is a statistical exercise, one that should properly consider the secondary effects of prolonging the emergency for another year.
So now is a good time to think about lifting the restrictions we’ve been under for the past month, based on the facts on the ground. Mid-May is a good place to start for New York; other places might take longer, and some may be ready to restart, taking baby steps at first, now.
Let’s get our dignity back, and get back to work.