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Smart Openings Following State Shut-Downs Is A Must

May 3, 2020

This blog has taken a consistent position regarding the pandemic and the need to proceed with a data-driven process for the reopening of businesses.  Those who shout and bring massive guns to rallies around the nation demanding instant openings are not the ones to be listened to;  rather the sober and professional voices are the leaders who should be heard.

Today this article stood out regarding how the nation has seemingly been turned over to the ones who were on the opposite end of the valedictorian rolls.

Still, given the heavy social burdens of the closures, some states are drawing up more cautious, calibrated plans. Governor Andrew Cuomo, of New York, has said that he intends to allow hospitals in some upstate counties, which have been less hard hit, to resume performing elective procedures—a category that includes many cancer surgeries. He also has committed New York to work in concert with six other Northeastern states, so that they do not end up undercutting one another’s efforts. California, Oregon, and Washington have formed a similar partnership. Reopening is, in fact, a matter not of relaxation but of vigilance. Governor Gavin Newsom, of California, has begun talking about opening schools in July, to make up for lost days, but he also closed the state’s beaches, after crowds of people flocked to them.

Some who argue for reopening sooner rather than later say that doing so will allow for a “controlled spread” of the disease, in which more people can develop a resistance and the population as a whole can achieve “herd immunity.” One problem with this approach is the projected number of hospitalizations and deaths along the way, which is very high. Another is that the idea assumes that those who have had covid-19 will, indeed, be immune. But, as the World Health Organization recently warned, it isn’t yet clear how effective or enduring any immunity might be. There are viruses, such as measles, for which the immunity is lifelong; for sars and mers, which are coronaviruses, immunity seems to fade, on average, in a couple of years. For the four other known human coronaviruses, which cause varieties of the common cold, immunity lasts just months.

The absurdity of some of the reopening measures—tattoo parlors?—raises the possibility that the public may be reluctant to follow the governors’ lead. Businesses may decide to stay closed or to keep their employees working from home. People may decide not to go to restaurants or malls or to take public transportation. But those with fewer financial resources may not have the luxury to choose safer ways of living. Last week, officials in Iowa and Nebraska made it clear that anyone who declines to go back to work will risk losing unemployment benefits. Many low-wage workers—in grocery stores, hospitals, and the meatpacking plants that Trump has ordered to stay open, even as they have become centers of outbreaks—have never stopped showing up. Moreover, as the covid Tracking Project noted, in South Dakota, a state that is almost ninety per cent white, people of color account for close to seventy per cent of the confirmed cases—a reflection of the demographics of meatpackers, and of wider disparities.

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