Cheap Seats 2020
Enough - 04/29
By Rich Trzupek
The time has come to say “enough.” The initial round of stay-at-home orders made sense. Not because COVID-19 was a significant risk to the otherwise healthy, but because the prospect of overwhelming the medical system’s ability to care for everyone all at once was all too real. As my sister, a retired nurse, said, “the last thing you want to do is have to choose who gets a ventilator and who doesn’t.”
So we stayed home for a while, grumbled a lot and otherwise wrestled with cabin fever. A lot of good people lost their sources of income and a lot of businesses shut their doors, many forever. It’s what we had to do. When pressed, people usually shine in this kind of situation and so it has been for us.
We’ve learned about the need for social distancing, obsessive hand-washing and protecting the most vulnerable: The elderly and the infirm. We can keep that up. We get it. The evidence is also growing that many more people have been exposed to COVID-19 than we initially thought, which inevitably leads to the conclusion that it’s much less deadly than we initially thought. Some initial anti-body studies in California suggest that the actual mortality rate associated with COVID-19 is less than 1 percent, since a whole lot of people caught the thing but fought it off so easily they didn’t think it was much more than a cold.
Is there a risk with starting to get back to normal? Of course. But there is also a risk with not getting back to normal. If COVID-19 can be a killer, so too can poverty, unemployment and economic disruptions. These last do their work in less spectacular ways, but the Grim Reaper has no surer ally.
It is up to our leaders to weigh these competing risks and to lead – not follow – the citizens’ who put them in office and to do so with courage and foresight. Unfortunately, it is becoming increasingly clear that Illinois is not blessed with such a leader. JB Pritzker, whom my younger brother has delightfully dubbed “Jabba the Guv” seems incapable of doing anything but invoking the Precautionary Principle.
If you’re not familiar with the phrase, the Precautionary Principle – frequently invoked by environmental advocacy groups – basically declares that if one can envision the possibility of disaster then one is obligated to do everything in one’s power to avert that disaster, no matter how remote it’s potential.
Carried to its extreme, the Precautionary Principle is the agoraphobic’s anthem: Nothing can happen to me if I remain locked in my basement and avoid all those scary people and situations outside of my house.
That’s not completely true, but near enough a semi-logical argument to at least be understandable. What matters more is the flip-side: If supposedly nothing can happen to you when you’re locked in your basement, nor can much happen for you. The world, with all of its joy and sorrow, rewards and dangers, lies beyond. Try as we might, we can’t be truly of the world unless we are truly in the world.
As a 60-year-old fellow, I understand my personal risk in a COVID-19 world is greater than it is for younger folks. As a relatively healthy 60 year old I find no evidence to presume that my personal risk is all that significant, nor do I believe that it is so among most of my fellow relatively healthy fellow seniors.
Accordingly, I believe that it’s incredibly irresponsible to continue to damage the future of the younger generations following us old codgers by continuing to impose restraints on society that so severely affect our economy and our society.
Jabba the Guv’s decision to extend the stay at home order for another month was cowardly, stupid and will do immense damage to the state. We are more than capable of returning to normal through careful and carefully monitored stages and now is the right time to do so.
As citizens, we should demand the following from the Guv: 1) Release daily COVID-19 reported instances, hospital admittance and death data, just as Gov. Cuomo in New York has done, so everyone can track the effect of the virus; 2) embrace and encourage anti-body testing that will enable one and all to gauge the relative danger of exposure; and 3) rescind the idiotic “everyone has to wear masks in public” order.
Will Illinois comply with the last when it becomes effective on May 1? I rather doubt it. Masks do little to limit the spread of the virus in these conditions. It seems more a matter of controlling the public than it is about controlling a pandemic.
Cheap Seat readers will not be surprised to learn that I’m not wearing a damned mask in public after May 1. You shouldn’t either. Let’s send Jabba a simple message: