RALEIGH – While teasing that he would unveil plans to a phased reopening of the North Carolina economy, Governor Roy Cooper kicked off his press conference by extending that Stay-at-Home order until at least May 8.
“It is clear that we are flattening the curve,bBut our state is not ready to lift restrictions yet. We need more time to slow the spread of the virus before we can ease the social restrictions.” – Gov. Roy Cooper, April 23
While it is reasonable to assume social distancing has played a role in slowing the spread of the virus and the anticipated burden on the hospital system has not materialized, the data does not currently exist to provide actual evidence for the claim.
Depending on how widespread the virus already was in high-population centers when the Stay-at-Home orders went into place, the policy of keeping families holed up together at home could have exacerbated transmission among family members, especially older at risk individuals. This has been determined to be the primary mode of transmission found among studies of the viral infection patterns around the world. Contrarily, casual transmission has been found to be comparatively low.
So are the Stay-at-Home orders helping? Looking at the charts of the feared and actual impacts so far, public health officials who recommended the policies in the first place says, ‘Yes, it’s working. We must keep it up.’
The truth is, we really don’t know. Because the evidence to prove social distancing mandates were causal in avoiding a larger spike in hospitalizations does not exist, we’re only left to wonder. What we do know is that the longer the shutdown remains in place, the more joblessness, poverty, and negative non-coronavirus health effects will grow.
According to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), which has been a go-to source for projecting the impact of COVID-19, North Carolina is a full week past the peak resource use stemming from COVID-19. The regular/ICU bed capacity of North Carolina hospitals was never approached. Not even close.
The original push for forced shutdown policies was animated by the need to flatten the curve so that our hospitals were not overwhelmed. Horror stories from parts of Italy and hard-hit hospitals in New York were used as examples of what would happen if North Carolina did not shutdown as much commerce as possible and restrict citizens movements with executive decrees. So now that we have past the peak, according to the IHME, and such capacities were never even stretched, the justification for extending the Stay-at-Home order must come from somewhere else.
The goal posts are being moved, without solid evidence presented as to why, and at the expense of livelihoods across the First in Freedom state.
Cooper did follow the announcement with an outline of his tepid approach to reopening the state in phases. The phases will allow businesses and activities in certain regions to return to certain operations as long as they meet certain criteria. It’s an incremental approach to granting freedoms back to the people; freedoms that are supposed to be unalienable.
It’s so incremental and goal dependent, actually, that it’s not much of a reopening plan at all.
— Brent Woodcox (@BrentWoodcox) April 23, 2020
Perhaps we should be thanking King Cooper for his benevolence?