The following Letter to the Editor was submitted by Susan Morgan, resident in the City of Oakley, who shares her thoughts in bullet point format on social distancing with the Shelter-in-Place Directive and the COVID-19 pandemic.
What follows are some of my thoughts on our current situation. There are so few forums for public discourse on these issues, my hope is to encourage that debate here.
- Our current situation is NOT normal (“new” or otherwise). This situation is extremely abnormal.
- The fabric of our society and our freedoms depends upon social interactions, social gatherings, networking, rallying, and social discourse.
- The fabric of our economy depends upon interconnections – social and physical – among people, businesses and workers.
- The effects of the shutdown are not isolated to particular industries. They ripple out, and in time, affect all businesses. Products and services no longer purchased in one industry affect the product and service sales of another, which in turn affect others. Over time, the effects grow and magnify.
- The economy is interdependent. At some point – you reach a tipping point. Like dominos, too many things start failing, and you can’t stop it fast enough. We’re getting close to that point now.
- Every business is essential. Every worker is essential.
- Businesses depend upon social gatherings – conferences to demonstrate and sell products or services, exchange ideas, develop alliances, agreements, business deals, networks and grow. The inability to gather severely curtails sales of some businesses, and completely closes down others.
- Distancing destroys our businesses, and our economy. Distancing also destroys our voices, and our freedoms.
- Freedom of speech is effectively gone. The way individuals exercise free speech is to gather together at a rally and show, by the force of numbers attending, that they have a common point of view to express. If the rally is large enough, the press will cover it, and the point of view is exposed, expressed, discussed, and debated. Without assembly, we lose this ability to offer a common alternative view, or show the degree of support for it, or engage in public discourse and debate over it.
- Social input in local government has been destroyed. City councils and other governmental bodies now meet in “closed” video sessions. The public has no input into the process or decision-making, as it is ongoing. Public comments made after the fact are not a part of the decision-making process. Public comments emailed in before the meeting do not give the public a chance to see and hear what others say, and respond further at that time. Social input depends upon being there, at the meeting, and expressing views in real time, in person, to those decision-makers.
- A single county health official can now dictate extraordinary constraints upon the population at large.
- The requirements for everyone to wear masks, or to quarantine, are over-inclusive and unconstitutional. Officials can place specific constraints on particular individuals, where it can be shown that certain actions by those individuals pose a serious danger to the population. Officials cannot place general constraints on everybody. Those people who have already been exposed to the COVID-19 virus, whether they were symptomatic or not, are now immune, not carriers, and pose no threat to the population. They cannot legally be arbitrarily constrained by such ordinances.
- Such over-inclusive and unconstitutional orders can be challenged in court – to protect the public from abridgement of freedoms by overzealous officials. But our courts are now closed, and not hearing such cases. We have no means to challenge unconstitutional and overarching abridgments of freedom, other than civil disobedience. Churches, and others who have engaged in this, have been fined, and threatened with jail.
- The COVID-19 virus does not kill everyone who is exposed to it. It’s a respiratory virus, like our seasonal flu. Like a bad flu, it has serious consequences to those who are immuno-deficient or frail or susceptible due to other serious health conditions. That segment of the population deserves to be handled carefully, with appropriate measures for those visiting or working with them.
- The COVID-19 virus is a “novel” respiratory virus – as we have no immunity it is likely that everyone will eventually be exposed to it. You cannot change that, until you have an effective vaccine. Vaccines take time – we cannot keep the country closed that long.
- We can slow the COVID-19 virus down – and that was the point of the extraordinary measures we have taken. To slow it down enough to allow the states to build up sufficient capacity—hospital beds and ICU equipment— to accommodate that segment of the population that develops COVID-19 and ends up there.
- California now has sufficient field hospitals and respiratory equipment to manage these cases – we are currently shipping respirators to other states, as we have more than we need.
- The harmful potential of continuing these extraordinary measures is now worse than the harmful potential of exposure to the COVID-19 virus itself. The “cure” is worse than the disease.
- It’s time to end the extraordinary measures that were put in place, open up all businesses, return all workers to work, end all restrictions on social gatherings, and restore all of our freedoms. Some people will get sick with this virus. Of those, the vast majority will recover within a few weeks. And be back to work— immune to further contagion or spreading.
- We currently live in a state in which we are quarantined, cannot protest, are locked out of decision-making processes (at all levels of government), are unable to work (for many of us), business are closed or closing (some permanently), or are severely curtailed, the economy is collapsing, stimulus and other measures are unsustainable, everyone will eventually be exposed to this virus anyway, regardless (and the vast majority will survive it and go on to make a complete recovery), and we have the facilities and equipment to manage a surge of hospital cases, if needed.
So – why are we still doing this?
Resident of the City of Oakley
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