NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Monday, April 20th, 2020

Republicans embrace economy as their deity: “There are more important things than living”

“What I said when I was with you that night is there are more impor­tant things than liv­ing… I don’t want to die, nobody wants to die, but man we’ve got to take some risks and get back in the game and get this coun­try back up and run­ning.”

– Texas Lieu­tenant Gov­er­nor and Trump boost­er Dan Patrick, April 20th, 2020, a self-pro­fessed “pro-life” Repub­li­can

Don­ald Trump has, to date, resist­ed a nation­al stay at home order regard­ing the spread of the nov­el coro­n­avirus, or SARS-CoV­‑2, believ­ing that such actions are the respon­si­bil­i­ty of state gov­ern­ments. So far, forty-two states plus Wash­ing­ton DC, Guam, Puer­to Rico, five munic­i­pal­i­ties in Okla­homa (Edmond, Still­wa­ter, Okla­homa City, Tul­sa, and Nor­man), two munic­i­pal­i­ties in Utah (Salt Lake City and Park City) and Laramie, Wyoming have issued such orders.

A POLITICO/Morning Con­sult poll from April 15th found that 81% of Amer­i­cans believed that the nation “should con­tin­ue to [phys­i­cal­ly] dis­tance for as long as is need­ed to curb the spread of coro­n­avirus, even if it means con­tin­ued dam­age to the econ­o­my,” with 51% of Repub­li­cans more con­cerned about “the pub­lic health impact of coro­n­avirus, includ­ing the spread of the dis­ease which would cause more deaths,” than in restart­ing the econ­o­my as soon as pos­si­ble.

An NBC poll from April 19th found that 58% of Amer­i­cans are wor­ried that lift­ing restric­tions on pub­lic behav­ior too soon will lead to a spike in coro­n­avirus cas­es and deaths. These num­bers exist in the midst of tens of mil­lions of peo­ple attempt­ing to file unem­ploy­ment claims. Don­ald Trump’s offi­cial pol­i­cy toward reopen­ing sec­tors of the economies of states suf­fer­ing from coro­n­avirus is four­teen days of declin­ing num­bers of new cas­es with­in a giv­en state.

Such a pol­i­cy requires far more test­ing and a far more com­pre­hen­sive abil­i­ty to trace dis­cov­ered cas­es to min­i­mize spread over time than present­ly exists.

Mike Pence has been urg­ing states to per­form more test­ing, claim­ing that the capac­i­ty exists with­in the states, but as with PPE gear for health­care per­son­nel, most gov­er­nors are com­pet­ing with the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment with access to test equip­ment, swabs and even the reagent used for test­ing.

There also isn’t a sin­gle stan­dard, or an agreed upon set of stan­dards, for what con­sti­tutes an ade­quate test or whether tests are “one and done” or based on a con­tin­u­ous process over time, in rela­tion to one’s lev­el of activ­i­ty and inter­ac­tion with peo­ple out­side one’s home.

How­ev­er, con­ser­v­a­tive pun­dits have demand­ed that the econ­o­my be restart­ed inde­pen­dent­ly of the state of infec­tion with­in a giv­en locale. Fox Noise Chan­nel has float­ed a nation­al reopen­ing date of May 1st, and there has been spec­u­la­tion that Don­ald Trump may both endorse and announce it.

In sup­port of such a move, and in response to Don­ald Trump’s tweets to “lib­er­ate” Michi­gan, Min­neso­ta and Vir­ginia on Fri­day, April 17th , and in hopes of stok­ing fears that the econ­o­my must mat­ter more than pub­lic health, there have been demon­stra­tions in almost twen­ty states demand­ing that stay at home orders be end­ed and that free­dom of move­ment be rein­stat­ed.

Unlike the Tea Par­ty demon­stra­tions that began in ear­ly 2009, these appear to be large­ly unco­or­di­nat­ed with one anoth­er and typ­i­cal­ly low in turnout.

Hawaii saw demon­stra­tions in their cap­i­tal of less than two dozen peo­ple.

There were far more demon­stra­tors in Red­mond, Ore­gon (which is locat­ed near Bend and Prineville), than in the cap­i­tal of Salem itself.

One of the largest protests was in Michi­gan, where the Michi­gan Con­ser­v­a­tive Coali­tion and the Michi­gan Free­dom Fund — a group linked to Trump’s Sec­re­tary of Edu­ca­tion Bet­sy DeVos — orga­nized and pro­mot­ed the event. Between 3,000 and 4,000 pro­test­ers attend­ed, with a thou­sand vehi­cles, in the process block­ing ambu­lance ser­vice to a near­by hos­pi­tal for entry by COVID-19 patients.

The Dorr broth­ers, Ben, Chris and Aaron, who man­age a large num­ber of gun shops across mul­ti­ple states and con­sid­er the NRA “too com­pro­mis­ing” regard­ing firearm safe­ty, have used Face­book to orga­nize demon­stra­tions through­out the North­east and Mid­west.

Face­book has blocked some, but not all, of this orga­niz­ing through their appli­ca­tion in order to be com­plaint with stay at home orders in spe­cif­ic states. As one would expect, peo­ple such as Don­ald Trump Jr. and Repub­li­can Sen­a­tor Josh Haw­ley of Mis­souri have respond­ed with demands that free speech not be imped­ed.

Wash­ing­ton State had over 2,000 demon­strate at the state­house grounds in Olympia on Sun­day, April 19th . (Less than two dozen also demon­strat­ed on the same day at the Spokane Coun­ty Cour­t­house.) Three Repub­li­can state rep­re­sen­ta­tives were at the event, notably Gran­ite Falls res­i­dent Robert Suther­land (R‑38th Dis­trict), who said at one point, “Gov­er­nor, you send your men with guns after us when we go fish­ing, you’ll see what a rev­o­lu­tion looks like.”

What these demon­stra­tions have done, more than any­thing else, is pro­vide cov­er. The Trump regime is bound to refer to them as part of the rea­son­ing behind his pos­si­ble May 1st reopen­ing scheme, espe­cial­ly if new demon­stra­tions hap­pen dur­ing the week­end of April 25th. The protests have already become a pre­text for fur­ther sus­pending immi­gra­tion into the Unit­ed States by exec­u­tive order .

And it most def­i­nite­ly pro­vides cov­er for the eas­ing of stay at home orders in Geor­gia, Ten­nessee and South Car­oli­na. Texas offi­cials, who had lim­it­ed orders in place, are now sig­nal­ing a desire to ease up their own. Flori­da has already seen lim­it­ed lift­ing of restric­tions of beach­es, and more is like­ly to fol­low.

(Both Texas and Flori­da, along with ten oth­er states, have had ongo­ing exemp­tions in place for reli­gious ser­vices or reli­gious ser­vice-based orga­ni­za­tions.)

Geor­gia will start open­ing indoor facil­i­ties such as gyms, bowl­ing alleys and hair salons to open as of April 24th , restau­rants as of the 27th and every­thing else by the 30th, with “med­ical­ly frag­ile peo­ple” rec­om­mend­ed to stay at home until May 13th . Ten­nessee will end its stay at home orders as of April 30th.

South Car­oli­na will open retail facil­i­ties by the end of this week, if not soon­er, though gyms will remain closed. All three gov­er­nors of these states have argued that phys­i­cal dis­tanc­ing can be main­tained, but it’s hard to see how peo­ple can be pro­tect­ed from COVID-19 when they are in close prox­im­i­ty to each oth­er. Ade­quate test­ing and trac­ing remains infea­si­ble as of this junc­ture.

These Repub­li­can gov­er­nors seem not to appre­ci­ate the sheer size of the effort that would be required to prop­er­ly test and track for the virus. They are ignor­ing the sheer mag­ni­tude of effort that will be required to devel­op a vac­cine to pro­tect against COVID-19. And at the end of the day, all we’re left with is sheer audac­i­ty .

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