The current shutdown in Nevada and in various states across the country is unprecedented in American history. It is reminiscent of wartime restrictions like blackouts and curfews—something that few alive can recall. By no stretch of the imagination are these things draconian. They are a last-ditch effort to keep the hospitals from being overwhelmed.
America is seeing an explosion of cases as we enter the “boom” phase of the pandemic. Unfortunately, we left our borders open for too long when it became apparent that a disaster was happening. We failed to have adequate tests to identify infected patients so epidemiologists could track the infected people. If this were a fire, we let the house burn until it spread to the neighborhood and now the embers have ignited uncontrollable spot fires across the city.
We should have taken drastic measures sooner. We knew what was coming yet our government failed to act. These self-isolation and shutdown precautions a month ago would have done good then. Now, it is too late. The explosions in deaths will continue.
We are behind the curve. The spike we’ve seen thus far is nothing compared to what will come. The infection has been raging all around us and will continue to incubate until everything shuts down. The question is, will the shut downs and lockdowns have any effect? This is a grand experiment with huge consequences for both success and failure.
If we succeed, hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, live. If we succeed, our economy pays a terrible price that will likely reduce us to a situation not seen since the 1930s. If we fail, our economy is still destroyed, our hospitals are overwhelmed, and our doctors and nurses become casualties. Flattening the curve should be intuitive by now, and if it isn’t, I can’t help you.
The risk to hospitals is far greater than naysayers assume. Hospital overflowing with COVID patients means that the hospital can’t be used for routine emergencies or surgeries. From trauma victims to people falling victim to unknown major medical conditions, they may be unable to get the kind of help they can get today simply because there are no bed and not enough staff. We are facing the total breakdown of our medical system.
Despite my best wishes, I don’t think our Hail Mary pass will work. COVID-19 will be something that will be with us. In time, patients will probably be taken to specialty field hospitals in gyms, stadiums, and large buildings where many of them will die. We will slowly return to work, but in a country where the virus runs rampant and infection is taken for granted. Survival for those who get a bad case will be a rolls of the dice.
Economy vs. untold deaths measurable by statistics is hard calculus. Do you sacrifice ½ to 9 million so people have a paycheck coming in? When all the people are dying, are people going to want to go on vacation and gamble? How far is too far?
We won’t know the outcome of this experiment for months and it will probably be years if we can judge whether it was worth it. Right now authorities are hoping and praying this works. If you accuse them of not prioritizing the economy over “just the flu,” look at how the stock market only tumbled a week ago and how long the government waited.
As individual citizens, we must be wary of the government restrictions. Will they be too heavy handed? In letter, they appear to be. In execution, we will see. In Nevada, we have seen the “voluntary” closures expanded into mandatory closures because of non-compliance. This is typical government; people don’t listen so crack down.
Yet police will be reluctant to drop the hammer on citizens. If people get busted for going to the park or swimming at the lake, the backlash will be far more extreme than just economic hardship. In this respect, we can’t let government dictate aspects of our life or where we can go or everything we can do.
Breaking people up into small groups is an understandable and commonsense step at preventing viral transmission. Locking people in their homes is not. Requiring businesses to make dramatic changes to ensure safety is also a good thing, yet an indefinite lockdown is antithetical to the American way of life.
I predict that in a month, if the restrictions are still in place, they must be and will be loosened. Americans will not tolerate being forced to stay home and just go out to get necessities. We need to enjoy nature, go to the beach, go camping, and engage in outdoor activities. In small grounds, families and friends need to come together.
So I do think that some businesses will start to re-open but with much greater emphasis on safety. Food poisoning due to greater food handling safety will be less. We won’t be eating out at restaurants. Working from home will become the norm. If we go out, we’ll be segregated into small groups. Wearing a mask may become mandatory or normal. Life will adjust until medicine can catch up with the virus.
Either way you look at it, there will be casualties. Lives, jobs, homes, fortunes and futures will be lost. We will take a staggering blow from the pandemic that could have been stopped or seriously mitigated but for incompetent government. We suffer under hard measures because hard measures were not taken when they were necessary. As humans and as Americans, we tend to do that.
So watch this experiment closely and hope it works.
You know what I really think? It's too late for this to work. Too many are infected, the hospitals will be overwhelmed anyway. If we get really lucky, we do flatten the curve, things normalize, but a part of "normality" for a while will be people going to specialty coronavirus hospitals.
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Clayton E. Cramer
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