COVID-19: open the economy or shelter in place?

4/15 UPDATE: Yesterday Trump backed down from his “Absolute Authority” stance.  For the moment at least, its crisis averted…

This one’s pretty long but please don’t expect a TL;DR synopsis. The points below, I think, are too important to summarize.

Ultimately our COVID-19 decision will be a classic Republican vs. Democrat battle. Why? because Republicans are about the individual and Democrats, the society. These are fundamental, core values of each party.

Republicans will push to re-open the economy citing the thousands who die by the flu or in automobile accidents or even by mosquito bites today and that we need to open the economy asap or suffer the worse fate of a nationwide depression.

Its a valid point.

Democrats will cite the potential of an infected individual to subsequently infect and even kill others, noting that everybody gets the flu and everybody gets bitten multiple times by mosquitoes and that if everybody also got COVID then the death count would be staggering.

This is also a valid point.

Make no mistake: both speak to the core values of the two different philosophies that make USA what it is today. Consequently, this situation may well become so divisive that it threatens to shatter the very nation that we call ourselves citizens of.

Wild prediction you say? These are unprecedented times I say.

It is quite conceivable Trump will demand that governors lift the ban by early to mid-May, citing his “absolute authority” to force them to do so. If this happens, it is also very likely that things will escalate. California and New York have already signed a governors’ pact that flies in the face of any federal “lift the quarantine” mandate. California alone has the fifth largest economy in the world, and has even taken to calling itself a “nation state” recently in response to lackluster COVID support/aid from the Federal government. They and New York have both been forced to find their own way and bid competitively for essential supplies such as masks and ventilators; so much so that one governor recently likened it to “buying and selling on eBay”.

Now the terms “Absolute Authority” and “Nation State”, when applied to a constitutional republic are incredibly scary to me because they also hint that we may very well be standing on the brink of a constitutional crisis. Trump may use the threat of pulling state aid funding as leverage for his order, while California and New York may very well refuse to continue providing federal tax revenues as retaliation. At that point, we are literally staring at military intervention; literally staring at civil war.

Lack of compromise had become the mantra of our Nation even before power changed hands in 2016. Today, fueled by the administration itself, we’ve become two tribes, unwilling to move forward together when the ultimate solution to our problem requires doing just that. We need vastly improved and expanded testing infrastructure and we need a way to identify and isolate infected individuals so we can let society go back to work and get our economy started again. We need to let Science discover treatments and develop a vaccine rather than listen to and share well produced fantasies from radical groups designed to promote fringe conspiracy theories or advance radical agendas.

We need to do this. We need to come together and find a common reality bubble to live in. The alternative is unthinkable.

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