Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic the Trump Task Force played a high stakes numbers game with our economy. Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) made dire predictions of the SARS-COV-2 virus’ impact on Americans. He expected up to one million deaths from the virus. The number of deaths is far below Dr. Fauci’s doomsday predictions yet everyone blindly accepted those predictions and turned to government out of fear. Fauci’s forecasts were used as justification to place everyone on house arrest and shut down all aspects of the economy except for essential services. These drastic measures raised the unemployment rate to around 20% and threw 6.6 million Americans out of work. Not to diminish the suffering (and in many cases death) of those who were infected with the COVID-19 virus, the number of deaths attributed to the virus have been markedly exaggerated. Doctors are under pressure to list “COVID-19” as the cause of death on Death Certificates whether the patient was tested or not. The President allowed state and local governments to make decisions as to the extent of business closures and social distancing that were appropriate for their individual regions. Governors in some states assumed emergency powers that many saw as excessive such as blocking church services, closing parks and banning recreational activities like hunting and fishing. Police were instructed to stop drivers in some communities to establish that their driving was for “essential” purposes. Governors were not only eager to impose such restrictions but have extended them beyond the period suggested by the President’s Task Force. We are seeing more widespread protests as average Americans now feel restrictions are more punitive than protective. This has spawned protests in states where the emergency powers appeared particularly egregious(i.e. Michigan, Maine). We have achieved Dr. Fauci’s goal of “flattening the curve” with respect to new cases of the virus. It is time to begin opening the economy although some Governors are still resisting that idea.
Regardless of how states and localities manipulated the numbers, the extreme measures taken with this virus were difficult to justify. This virus will remain with us indefinitely and a vaccine is months to years into the future. The family of coronaviruses has contributed to the common cold for many years. We must continue to protect and shelter the vulnerable but it is time for the rest of us to resume a semblance of normal life once again. Individuals who feel that any resumption in activities is premature will look for an increase in number of infections or deaths to justify reverting to the previous restrictions. The average incubation period for most viruses is 3-7 days so if we see a spike in cases one or two days after easing the sheltering in place it is not from that alone. This is especially true when it comes to COVID-19 deaths. Patients who die likely became sick weeks before their death and their death was certainly not the result of a loosening of restrictions. We won’t know if opening the country back up will work until we give it a try.