The original tagline for our nationwide coronavirus lockdowns were “15 days to slow the spread.” These 15 days were later extended to 30. Now, many governors, mayors and other public officials across the country have extended their lockdowns further.
The stated goals of the original lockdowns, as articulated by the U.S. government, were to “flatten the curve” and avoid overwhelming hospitals. Yet America remains shut down as politicians set new benchmarks that are either vague or seemingly impossible to meet.
Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced new guidelines last week that prohibit counties in the state from moving to phase two of the state’s four-phase plan to reopen until they have gone two straight weeks without a single death, among other criteria. An increasing number of protesters and business owners in the state are growing frustrated with the state’s restrictions. (RELATED: Gavin Newsom Praises Trump Administration’s Response To The Coronavirus)
Tesla CEO Elon Musk said Saturday that he was planning to sue Alameda County after public officials in the county said he could not reopen his company. Musk accused the county of violating his constitutional rights, and had threatened to move his company to a state that has allowed businesses to reopen. (RELATED: Elon Musk Cheered For Threatening To Move California Locations, But Tesla’s Real Expansion Is In China)
He then tweeted Monday night that Tesla would be resuming production “against Alameda County rules,” asking that if anyone were arrested, that it be him.
Meanwhile, hundreds of protesters stormed the Huntington Beach area earlier this month after a memo leaked detailing the governor’s plans to close beaches and state parks throughout the state. Mass protests have become increasingly common nationwide as people tire of indefinite lockdowns.
In Virginia, Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam announced intentions to ease restrictions in the state by May 15, but the possible lockdown moderation is no longer definite after complaints from local leaders. Public officials in Northern Virginia’s five largest counties wrote a letter to the governor’s team saying that while they were “eager” to reopen the economy, they were not ready to do so unless they met certain criteria.
The criteria laid out by the leaders includes two weeks of downward testing rates and hospitalizations, which are consistent with the reopening guidelines laid out last month by the White House. However, the criteria also include demands such as increased testing and PPE, but they do not specify the amount of medical supplies that would be sufficient to reopen.
Proponents of an indefinitely continued lockdown have begun justifying their decisions with very different rhetoric than when the lockdowns began.
Former Vice President Joe Biden tweeted last week that “No life is worth losing to add one more point to the Dow,” reviving the straw man argument that opponents of continued lockdown place more value in the stock market than in human lives. In reality, Wall Street has largely continued to thrive during the pandemic, while main street has been decimated, losing tens of millions of jobs. (RELATED: Cuomo Refers To Wuhan Coronavirus As The ‘European Virus’)
Democratic Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf posted a series of tweets Monday threatening counties that don’t comply with his stay at home order. He indicated that he would be willing to withhold federal funds and suggested he could hold businesses that reopen liable.
“This is not a time to give up. This is not time to surrender. This is a time to rededicate ourselves to the task of beating this virus,” Wolf said. “I intend to keep fighting. And, I believe that the overwhelming majority of my fellow Pennsylvanians intend to keep fighting it too. And with that unity, I know we can win.”
This is not a time to give up.
This is not time to surrender.
This is a time to rededicate ourselves to the task of beating this virus.
— Governor Tom Wolf (@GovernorTomWolf) May 11, 2020
If reopening the economy is a form of “surrender,” is the implication that the economy must stay closed until there’s a vaccine? Wolf is not alone in this shift in thought from slowing the spread to eradicating the disease altogether prior to reopening.
“To prepare for new COVID-19 cases & safely reopen our economy, we need widespread testing, contact tracing, & a vaccine,” Democratic Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren said last week.
To prepare for new COVID-19 cases & safely reopen our economy, we need widespread testing, contact tracing, & a vaccine. What we don’t need are empty promises from the President that make us less safe. Congress must step up or more people will suffer. https://t.co/SKpgamCGY8
— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) May 5, 2020
Democratic Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker has said that he will not allow churches to fully reopen until there’s a vaccine. When asked why she’s keeping her city closed, Democratic Mayor Muriel Bowser said she was worried about reopening without a vaccine.
Meanwhile, “deaths of despair” in the U.S. are expected to reach up to 75,000, according to a study published last week by Well Being Trust. These “deaths of despair” include suicides, drug overdoses and other forms of death that often result from isolation and poverty.
The goalposts have shifted from flattening the curve to avoiding risk at all costs, which is leading to more mistrust in the nation’s leaders. The U.S. has flattened the curve and avoided hospital overflows. That is enough for many parts of the country to begin to reopen for businesses and restore some sense of normalcy to their states.