It took less than a week for New York governor Andrew Cuomo to concede that shutting down the entire state was a mistake and probably works contrary to public health objectives (as some of us have been saying all along):
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday that his stay-at-home order for the entirety of New York State was “probably not the best public health strategy.”
In a press conference in Albany, Cuomo said the smartest way forward would be a public health strategy that complemented a “get-back-to-work strategy.”
“What we did was we closed everything down. That was our public health strategy. Just close everything, all businesses, old workers, young people, old people, short people, tall people,” said Cuomo. “Every school closed, everything.”
“If you rethought that or had time to analyze that public health strategy, I don’t know that you would say quarantine everyone,” Cuomo admitted. “I don’t even know that that was the best public health policy. Young people then quarantined with older people was probably not the best public health strategy because the younger people could have been exposing the older people to an infection. “
Cuomo stressed the need for both public health and economic growth. “We have to do both,” said the governor. “We’re working on it.”
Kudos to Cuomo for holding himself accountable. That’s a rare thing in politicians these days and, well, ever.
It’s too little, too late at this point, however. The shelter-in-place orders across the country have thoroughly broken some people’s brains. We have local policymakers across the country not only telling people to stay home, they are cutting off access to solitary activities. In Washington state, they’ve revoked people’s fishing licenses, because you might get the coronavirus from touching a trout. In Florida, some places have closed boat ramps. Because you might get the virus from being out on your own boat. I’m not sure what they are going to do about the people who actually live on their boats, of which there are more than a few in Florida. It’s just one jackass policy after another, as medical professionals are coming out en masse to say there is zero data to support dire projections.
When we went to Lens Crafters to pick up our new eyeglasses the other day, the clerk would only see us individually and made me wait while she sterilized her workstation after my husband got his glasses. Not for her protection, but for mine. My husband was like, “You realize we came here in the same car, right? You realize we live together?” My husband, our daughter, and I were literally the only people in the store and they made us stand 6 feet apart from each other so we would not catch the coronavirus from each other in their store. It’s hilarious how idiotic some of these policies have become.
The other 80% of America is patiently waiting for the opportunity to vote these people out of office. And it’s become yet another reason to stop talking altogether with people you disagree with, as if we need more of that in public discourse. It’s another wedge between people who can think about issues soberly and the people who are fundamentally emotional.
I honestly think whatever outcomes occur politically in November, it will be less about political parties and more about pent-up rage at incumbents of both parties who have made a long series of bad decisions that have destroyed people’s livelihoods and taken away the passions they would ordinarily use as catharsis in tough times. The person who is out of a job is less likely to hold that against Trump (whose approval is increasing, and who is about to mail them a check) than against the mayor who issued a shelter-in-place order and was directly responsible for putting them out of a job. Considering that small businesses make up the lion’s share of the economy, that’s not an insignificant number of people.
But Americans will start taking out the trash, and our governments will be stronger at every level because of it. We kind of needed something like this to happen in our country.