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It is time to reopen America

To the editor:

The danger has passed, the curve has been flattened, peaked, plateaued and is on the decline. Given the dire forecast models that our leaders were faced with at first drastic measures were the correct course of action. Thanks to those measures the hospitals and medical system are not overwhelmed, extra hospitals built by the Army Corps of Engineers were under used or not used at all. We need to reopen the America, not so the President can brag about his economy, but because people are hurting. The worst-case scenario never came. The highly contagious Covid-19 is not highly lethal. It is time to reopen America.

Before we delve into why we should reopen the U.S. I think it is important to remember how we came to close the economy. The models on mortality and the curve constantly changed over the last few months. The reasons our health experts and government leaders gave us for taking drastic measures also evolved with time. The initial panic alarm was sounded by epidemiologist Dr. Neil Ferguson. In a paper from Imperial College in the United Kingdom, Dr. Ferguson forecasted 40 million deaths worldwide if no action was taken by world leaders.

The grim forecast for the United States was 4 million deaths without mitigation and 2.2 million with some mitigation. This scared our leaders to take the drastic measures and scared citizens into accepting those measures. We were told the highly contagious virus would have a high mortality rate, because there were no known treatments and no herd immunity. The highly lethal narrative quickly changed to one where hospitals would be overwhelmed with Covid-19 patients leaving no room for heart attack, auto accident and other critical patients, even with mitigation. The models forecasted a near capacity or an overwhelming surge on our medical system in mid to late April. Praise be to God there was no such surge.

This all begs the question: Was the mandatory shut down of the economy necessary? I drive for a living. In early March it was clear that the fear of high mortality and fast spread of the virus fueled by the media and politicians was enough to cause people to self-quarantine. This fear of a high mortality rate was keeping people out of bars and restaurants. So much so several bar and restaurant owners, waitresses and bartenders told me their places of business were adjusting hours of operation and fearing closure for lack of customers. Mind you that was the week before the shutdown orders! It makes me wonder if the government could have sent out guidelines and warnings, leaving the decisions to the people and the businesses. The American people have been willing to follow guidelines. It is possible to protect the most vulnerable in society, the elderly and those with underlying health conditions without a total shutdown. Less constringent measures that are not economy killers would have been effective in mitigating the spread and saving lives.

I do not want to sound like I am downplaying the mortality of the virus, as the President says: “One death is one too many.” New research is showing the infection rate is as high as originally thought. We know this from anti-body testing such as the Santa Clara study, the USC study, the New York study and a German study. The additional number of infections lowers the hospitalization rates and the mortality rates of Covid-19. While highly contagious the virus is not highly lethal.

Another case for reopening the economy and ending lockdowns is the financial, physical and mental toll these policies are taking on people. It is a known fact financial fears will lead to depression and suicides. Domestic violence and child abuse have already risen in places with strict lockdowns. I see people at intersections begging for food and spare change. I saw one lady pacing by an exit ramp like a lost soul. Her appearance was not that of someone you would expect to see pacing at a freeway on ramp. I wondered to myself, “Is she recently homeless?” All these people I see have one thing in common. They have the 1,000-yard stare in their eyes — like a shell-shocked soldier. The toll the sudden loss of income takes on the human soul, worsened by the lag in unemployment payments, is one thing our leaders need to consider when it comes to reopening the economy.

There is the “Swedish Model” that recommended social distancing and limiting gatherings to 50 people, among other recommendations. There was no total economic shutdown in Sweden and no stay at home orders. The Swedes have voluntarily followed the guidelines. Like using less public transportation and standing one meter apart in public. Once the Swedish model became public knowledge in America, the cable news media reported an increase in deaths in Sweden. Sweden in the middle of the pack when it comes to mortality rates in Europe.

The Covid-19 pandemic is more like a saga with more plot twists than the best Hollywood script. Remember in January when the World Health Organization tweeted this coronavirus could not be passed from human to human, because China said it was not contagious human to human? Now, we know it is highly contagious but not highly lethal. Our surgeon general said it was not necessary for the public to wear masks. Now, it is recommended by our leaders to wear masks. Some states and towns are mandating masks in public.

I totally agree we need protect our elderly and people with underlying conditions. There are plenty of churches, charities and good Samaritans who will help the elderly get necessities like food and toilet paper. I myself have made a few grocery and fast food runs for older friends.

Reopening the economy is easier said than done with the “pandemic of fear” created by the cable news media and politicians. Our leaders need to be as aggressive in reassuring the public it is safe to return to the “new normal.” Recommended social distancing, recommended masks and hygiene are all vital, but the fear tactics need to stop. The models of Black Plague level mortality that struck fear into our leaders have been wrong from day one. Our political leaders need to lead and calm the American anxiety attack that is worse than the virus.

To quote the Louis Armstrong lyric from the song “Go Down Moses”: “LET MY PEOPLE GO!”

John R, Morrow,

Wellsville

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