RALEIGH – As the escalation of isolation policies spreads around the country, with state and local executives engaging in a corona quarantine one upmanship, Governor Roy Cooper has issued executive orders to close bars and restaurants, schools, gyms, barber shops, nail salons, and limiting ‘legally allowable’ group sizes to 50 or under. Now, hospital executives are reportedly asking him to go a step further — a big step — and issue a ‘Shelter In Place’ executive order to all North Carolinians.
“North Carolina hospital executives asked Gov. Roy Cooper on Monday to “issue an immediate order to shelter in place,” and take the state’s response on the coronavirus outbreak up another notch.
Governors in 16 U.S. states have already issued “shelter in place” orders impacting 142 million people. Officials said about 43% of the nation is under a stay at home order, and other states, including Hawaii, are expected to do the same.
Just what that would mean in practice remains to be seen, but similar orders in other states closed a broad swath of businesses and essentially told people to stay home, with a significant list of exceptions. […]”
We may have long ago passed the point of reasonable approaches to mitigating the fallout from the virus itself, and launched right into completely inappropriate and arguably unconstitutional restrictions on private business and individual movements, but this would represent a significant and disturbing step if it were to be taken.
Yet public health officials and health advisors have argued the steps are necessary to prevent a surge in SARS-CoV2 infections that results in overcrowding hospitals and stressing the entire healthcare system.
“[…] The North Carolina Healthcare Association said in a statement that the governor’s latest moves were positive, “but not enough to tamp down the surge we anticipate is coming to hospitals in the near future.” The association’s shelter-in-place letter said hospital leaders from around the state spoke to each other Monday and that “it’s clear that the cases are increasing at a rapid rate.”
Association President Steve Lawler, who signed the letter, told WRAL News Monday evening that it’s time to take the state’s measures “to that next level.”
“The states and the countries that have done the best in bending the curve … are the ones that took these kinds of actions sooner rather than later,” Lawler said. […]”
Italy serves a prime example of what a buckling system may look like, even though the risk factors in northern Italy are entirely different than in other parts of the world, particularly here in North Carolina. Health officials like Lawler may argue Italy waited too long to lock it down.
How do we know if we are soon, or late, though? If the virus has been spreading around unbeknownst to most of us, is putting everyone on virtual house arrest the right thing to do? The virus spreads easiest in confined spaces. Generational mingling, like grandparents at home with grandkids, creates more infections in at risk groups. These officials are simultaneously asking people to stay away from each other (social distancing, a prudent policy to promote) and asking the governor order everyone to huddle together in their homes where the virus transmits most effectively.
Italy locked down with such measures and the cases still continued to explode. They went as far as banning funerals for the dead. Violators of their lockdown rules carry a three month prison sentence. Is that what we’ll do to enforce these draconian measures in the First in Freedom state?
And what continues to happen to the livelihoods of North Carolinians under such an order? Lest you encounter someone that thinks such a concern is valuing money over lives, you might remind them that the life of the waitress and her children that could barely make ends deserve some respect of their lives and rights as well when making such massively disruptive decisions.
“If we can safe just one life….” has been uttered by a few public officials during this crisis, and it’s a monumentally dangerous premise. It’s a premise that could also be used to lock us all up at home for any number of reasons, for an indefinite amount of time, causing an immeasurable amount of loss for working families prohibited from working. How many lives will these panicked executives destroy in an effort to ‘save just one life?’