Across the nation, protesters are taking to the streets and business owners are filing lawsuits objecting to the coronavirus shutdown rules. As the rules drag on, they're causing job losses, bankruptcies and a feeling that people have no rights. The liberal media are labeling the protesters "virus deniers." Don't fall for that. The protesters have science and the U.S. Constitution on their side.
Not to mention common sense. As New York's Governor Andrew Cuomo said Monday: "This is not a sustainable situation. Close down everything, close down the economy, lock yourself in the house."
Start with the science. Data show almost all the coronavirus fatalities are among the elderly and those with serious health problems. A staggering 68% of deaths in Pennsylvania have been nursing home residents. Shutting stores and restaurants didn't save them.
A lockdown targeted to protecting the highest risk group — people 65 and over — instead of confining all age groups would slash deaths by half but at only half the economic cost of a total shutdown, according to new National Bureau of Economic Research findings.
Unfortunately, social media companies are censoring any science that challenges the shutdown. When two California doctors who run urgent care centers challenged the need for California's shutdown, based on what they see at their clinics, YouTube removed their statements, saying the platform's policy is to ban content that "disputes the efficacy of local health authority recommended guidance."
Shame on YouTube and its parent company, Google. YouTube also censor views at odds with the World Health Organization, which helped get us into this mess.
Remember that just a few weeks ago, shutting down schools and businesses was justified to "flatten the curve," meaning buying time for hospitals to add beds and gather enough ventilators, masks and other medical equipment.
The shutdown's goal was not eradicating the virus. That's not possible. The Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, as well as other experts, predict the virus will last another 18 to 24 months, fading once most Americans have been exposed and developed immunity.
As Colorado lifted its shutdown last week, the governor explained it's a "balance" between keeping the virus "at a level that won't overwhelm our hospital systems and allowing people to still try and earn a living."
Amen to earning a living. The biggest divide in this country is about who's getting a paycheck.
Some government officials who get paid show no respect for working people who don't. How else can one explain Governor Janet Mills' decision to bar Maine hotels from taking reservations for the summer season. Or Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer's attempt to close grass-mowing businesses, though the virus is seldom transmitted outdoors.
When the shutdown was temporary and tied directly to hospital preparedness, lawsuits challenging it didn't stand a prayer. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1905 that a state "has the right to protect itself against an epidemic" using reasonable regulations.
But shutdowns lose their reasonableness when they have no deadline or benchmark to meet. Their vagueness tramples the public's rights, including the right to own property without the government making it worthless.
Monday, Cuomo set out a four-phase reopening. Not all the benchmarks are wise, but benchmarks pegged to hospital capacity are on the mark. He should add nursing home preparedness, too, because that's where deaths are occurring. Don't overlook that twice, Governor.
The public should shudder at New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio's vague announcement that the city's reopening is "a few months away at a minimum."
That could reduce the city to a wasteland of boarded-up storefronts, abandoned commercial buildings, landlords defaulting on taxes and soaring tax rates for the taxpayers still in the city.
As for when New York schools reopen, science indicates schools are not a source of transmission. If schools are kept closed in the fall in defiance of this fact, say goodbye to the middle class with kids. New York will be for the poor and uber-rich only.
As for the rest of the nation, government officials should heed the concerns of the millions who want to get back to work. Shutting down won't stop the virus, but it will destroy our rights and the nation we love.
Betsy McCaughey is chairman of the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths and a former lieutenant governor of New York. Contact her at [email protected] To find out more about Betsy McCaughey and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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