RALEIGH – At the Tuesday press update on North Carolina’s coronavirus response state leaders reported 3,321 confirmed infections of coronavirus and 46 deaths across the state.
Governor Roy Cooper spent the bulk of press update further encouraging social distancing measures, hinting that an extension of the Stay-at-Home order maybe coming, and revealed he is preparing yet another executive order to further tighten the screws on the operations of ‘essential businesses’ in order to better enforce social distancing.
These are the businesses deemed essential and allowed by the government to remain open to the public. The lack of complete control over people gathering and violating social distancing guidelines at grocery stores and supermarkets is untenable, apparently, to the public health officials that want to stop the spread of this virus. Treating it like a simulation, clamping down harder on individual movements is the obvious option for public health experts.
Cooper also announced other plans to provide childcare resources for healthcare workers facing the dual pressure of the COVID-19 epidemic and school/daycare closures.
The thrust of the press conference was a reiteration of social distancing protocols and selective counterfactuals that imply, ‘it is working…but that we cannot stop…we must sacrifice more…trust us…but if you don’t, we’ll just make you comply.’
(Also, they’re causing economic ruin and the largest spike in unemployment in our state’s history. That, along with discarding your rights, is a sacrifice Cooper and others are willing to make because…the models.)
(It is certainly one of our best weapons, but the decision to add coercion to the social distancing campaign, via government edicts, likely does more harm than good. Cooper asking if the model he has chosen to favor means he will act upon its recommendations is a question that answers itself.)
But most of all, they’ll err heavily on the side of worst-case projections and a heightened (even more than usual) sense of the perceived collective good (public health) being inherently superior to any and all concerns over violating constitutionally guaranteed individual rights.
As long as there are COVID-19 projecting a potential threat the the collective health system, Cooper and company are going to favor shutdown policies as if they have no choice. In their minds, they don’t; public health officials understandably view this as a problem best solved by pulling all the levers necessary to manage the trajectory in a comprehensive system.
When asked how best to stop the spread of the virus, what else would they say? Of course, social distancing is effective, but whether it is warranted by the real data, or justifiable in our system of individual liberty is a different question altogether. That is a question for policymakers, and we really wish they had as much respect for individuals’ lives and their rights to them, as they do for modeling collective death projections and innovating ways for government to better control the citizenry.