Nobody knew the number “15” could be so challenging and deadly. Challenging for citizens to do their best to social distance for at least 15 days, in order to slow the spread of COVID-19. Deadly to our nation’s economy.
Despite this, we’ve been a mostly cooperative group because Americans tend to be try-hards when it comes to protecting our citizens. Our regulation nation does whatever it can to protect us from every disease, accident and tragedy.
That we’ll all be safe and well is what everyone wants, but we can never fully succeed in that quest. Living is still, and always will be, a risky business. According to the National Safety Council, nearly 39,000 died in car accidents last year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that recent past flu seasons have seen as many as 61,000 deaths in one year. Based on data from the National Institute of Mental Health, 47,000 died from suicide in 2017. And the National Cancer Institute says that nearly 610,000 died from cancer in 2018.
These casualties were important, too—all people loved by someone. But none of these diseases, accidents or tragedies triggered a complete shutdown of our economy.
We’re braking hard right now for the global pandemic and national emergency that is COVID-19. It’s already taken hundreds of American lives, and it will take many more. The majority of deaths from this virus occur in the elderly, who also have serious underlying health conditions.
According to the CDC, the virus has an incubation of 2 – 14 days after exposure before symptoms may appear. It makes the “15 Days to Slow the Spread,” plan sound reasonable.
Nursing homes, schools, churches, restaurants, bars, sporting events, festivals, concerts, non-profit fundraising dinners, and many small businesses and large corporations have been shuttered during this time. It’s an effort to reduce personal contacts in order to reduce the number of infections and hospitalizations. Flattening the curve can avoid spikes that could overwhelm our health care providers.
But grocery stores, convenience stores, pharmacies and essential businesses remain open and are continuing to receive foot traffic. People still need food, gas, medicine, and other essential supplies and services. Turns out that immobilizing 300,000,000 people for long periods of time just isn’t that easy. Basic human needs must still be met.
It’s too soon to tell whether or not 15 days will flatten the curve. The experts could be right, or they could be wrong. At this point, it doesn’t matter.
If they’re right and it worked, we can take what we’ve learned about virus containment and slowly and cautiously restart our economy. If the experts are wrong and it didn’t work, we have to seriously question the amount of public good that can be done by continuing restrictions.
For example, coronavirus cases are soaring in New York City. Response Coordinator, Dr. Deborah Birx, stated, “Clearly, the virus has been circulating there for a number of weeks…” It’s possible that the virus is already too far ahead of us.
What we do know, though, is that our economy went from robust and healthy to one that is on life support. Whether the experts are right or wrong, at the end of this 15-day period, it will be time to make an adjustment in favor of restoring economic health.
We can continue to protect the elderly, children, and those with weakened immune systems or underlying health conditions. Let their 15 days become 15 weeks, if necessary.
For the rest of us—who are healthy and able to work—be ready for the call to get this country’s economy back on the move.
Even one coronavirus death is too many. But our country is dying and needs our protection, too.