This pandemic has been very tough on everyone. We need to make money, we need to get out of our homes, and we need to interact with other people. However, I worry that we are doing too much, too soon. I’d rather be too cautious than too risky in dealing with this deadly virus. Federal guidelines state there should be a 14 day decline in new cases of coronavirus for states to re-open. We’re nowhere near that.
Infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci warned that if we re-open too soon, we could have a big spike in infections. That’s just what happened in 1918 during the brutal Spanish flu pandemic. Several cities ended their lockdowns too early, which caused a deadlier second wave of the flu.
- Shaw: Fargo native shares experiences working at pandemic epicenter
- Shaw: Fargo brothers share what life is like in NYC
The fact is, this virus is not under control. Deaths are surging. More Americans died in April from COVID-19 than from anything else. There is no vaccine and there’s not nearly enough testing. The United States, which has 4% of the world’s population, has about 33% of the world’s infections. There are roughly 1.3 million known infections in the U.S., but only about 3% of Americans have been tested. That means there are many more people who have the coronavirus, and don’t know it. Many of those people are undoubtedly transmitting the virus to others.
I worry that the re-opening is not motivated by science, but by political pressure. Politicians such as state Rep. Luke Simons, R-Dickinson. Simons shamefully threatened to defy Gov. Doug Burgum’s executive order and open his barber shop, while comparing himself to Martin Luther King Jr. I don’t recall that Dr. King’s dream was to cut hair.
Simons, apparently in consultation with Dr. Howard, Dr. Fine and Dr. Howard, also said, “This is not an epidemic. It’s a bad flu season.” The facts are that about one out of every 17 Americans diagnosed with the coronavirus dies from it, while the flu kills roughly one out of every 1,000 people who get it. To put it another way, more Americans have died in one month from the coronavirus than in one year from the flu.
Not to be overlooked are Fargo City Commissioners Tony Gehrig and Dave Piepkorn, who foolishly called for Fargo businesses to re-open in April. Meantime, about half of North Dakota’s coronavirus cases are in Cass County, more than half of the state’s COVID-19 deaths are in Cass County, and The New York Times has named Fargo as 14th on a list of metropolitan areas where the virus is continuing to spread. Gehrig and Piepkorn remind me of the mayor of Amity in “Jaws,” who urged people to swim in the ocean, while the shark was in the water.
I worry about workers who are forced to go back to work in unsafe conditions, or lose their jobs. I also worry that those workers will pick up the virus and spread it to others. I understand the need and desire to charge up the economy. I fear it will look like Pickett’s Charge.