It is time to start saying this in a dreary loop of bad but necessary noise: This pandemic is not even vaguely close to being over. Without testing, and until there is an effective vaccine, stay-at-home is how it has to be. To prevent an escalation in deaths, we have to crouch in our foxholes until the bombardment ends. It is as simple as that.
Those who are agitating to reopen everything are knowingly or unknowingly doing the bidding of conservative groups tied to Republican megadonors and the White House, all of whom want us all back to work so they can start making money again. They don’t care about us. They never, ever have.
If social distancing is lifted before a national testing regimen has been undertaken, before a free vaccine for everyone is as available as fast food, COVID-19 will come back again and again until the precious economy these industrialists want us to die for will be nothing but dust and ashes.
Who agrees with me about the menace we face? Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, agrees with me. “There’s a possibility that the assault of the virus on our nation next winter will actually be even more difficult than the one we just went through,” Redfield told The Washington Post. “And when I’ve said this to others, they kind of put their head back, they don’t understand what I mean. We’re going to have the flu epidemic and the coronavirus epidemic at the same time.”
The ‘rona and the flu at the same time? The possibility that the scenario Redfield describes could actually be a third wave if the summer sees a second wave caused by ending the stay-at-home orders too early? Sounds like something we should definitely try to avoid, right?
Enter Brian Kemp, Republican governor of Georgia, who achieved his office by way of perhaps the most brazen broad-daylight act of voter suppression ever seen in the modern era. Kemp was secretary of state when he ran for governor in ‘18 and thus in charge of the election he was in, and he just … took it.
Kemp’s opponent in that race, Stacey Abrams, is waiting for a call from Joe Biden. She should be running Georgia’s catastrophic COVID-19 response from the governor’s office. Instead, like the rest of us, she gets to watch in horror as Kemp feeds his state to the virus in order to help Donald Trump look good for a news cycle or two.
“Georgia Republican Gov. Brian Kemp announced Monday that certain businesses can reopen this week in a move that breaks from the majority of state leaders and defies the warnings of many public health officials,” reports CNN. “Kemp said specifically that fitness centers, bowling alleys, body art studios, barbers, hair and nail salons, and massage therapy businesses can reopen as early [as] Friday, April 24. Theaters and restaurants will be allowed to open on Monday, April 27, while bars and night clubs will remain closed for now.”
Kemp has his own COVID-19 task force, which is nice, except he did not inform its members of his decision to dramatically lift the social distancing rules. They found out when everyone else did, and the news did not sit well.
Bernice King, daughter of Martin Luther King Jr. and a community outreach committee co-chair on the task force, is thinking about quitting in protest. “Like many of you who are in the state of Georgia, I’m extremely concerned about the governor’s plans and what his decisions will mean for the safety, health and lives of Georgia residents,” King said in a video statement.
There’s a grim irony in this: Kemp ignored his coronavirus task force, while Trump’s own coronavirus task force is laboring to ignore him. This is not good government. This is a frantic terrier chasing its tail. All movement, no progress.
King’s concerns are shared by mayors all across the state of Georgia. The mayors of Atlanta, Savannah, and other cities and towns in the state are preparing to tell their citizens to ignore Gov. Kemp if he gives the all-clear. “I am beyond disturbed,” Savannah Mayor Van Johnson told CNN. “In my mind, it’s reckless. Our reality here in Savannah is our numbers are still going up.”
Indeed, they are. “Projections show that Georgia has not seen the worst of the coronavirus,” reports The New York Times, “with deaths not forecast to level off until early May, according to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. The state has recorded about 19,000 confirmed cases of the virus, with nearly 800 deaths as of Tuesday afternoon, according to state public health data.”
That forecast is based upon the stay-at-home model being in place. Remove it, and the numbers in Georgia could skyrocket, as they have in several states whose governors have not taken this thing seriously because doing so would tarnish Trump. That, right there, is the way a second wave gets rolling this summer, even as a vast majority believe we all need to stay at home until there’s a testing regimen in place and, at some point, a vaccine.
This is not rocket science. This is basic science.
“There are more important things than living,” Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick told Fox News yesterday, “and that’s saving this country for my children and my grandchildren and saving this country for all of us.”
Tell that to the dead, Mr. Patrick. They know better. This push to reopen is not about “saving the country.” It is about getting the machine going again, even if it requires lubricating the gears with blood.
We can’t get out from under this thing until people like Kemp and Patrick stop polishing the brass on Trump’s Titanic, start listening to scientists, and exercise patience. The very right-wingers who sling the insult “snowflakes,” the tough guys with the AR-15s, the preppers ready for Armageddon, are decompensating after a few weeks of hard times, and all with people like Kemp, Patrick and Trump egging them on.
These quarantine protests are not a mass movement. The news media, as well as clever agitprop artists on the right, are making it seem like a tide of patriotic humanity is throwing itself against the strictures of unreasonable personal restrictions. This could not be further from the truth.
This is a video of the anti-quarantine protest in Ohio on Monday. There are barely enough people there to start a college football team. This “movement” is nothing more or less than a GOP-sponsored menace. The crowds at these “protests” may be small, but every single one of them can and will spread COVID-19 if it gets into these gatherings and goes home with the participants. There’s your second wave, coming soon to your state, if it isn’t there already.
I do not see a way out of this that does not involve a monstrous body count among Trump’s most devoted supporters. Brian Kemp and the governors of his ilk, like the president they kneel before, are in the process of committing manslaughter on a massive scale. Why? Because this pandemic is not even vaguely close to being over, but Trump wants to win in November, and he has friends to help in that endeavor even if it costs thousands of lives.
It is a preposterous situation. Stay home, Georgia. Please. Do not listen to your governor.