In some states, the sense of urgency to protect human lives seems to be decreasing in direct proportion to increasing desperation to revive the economy. Some governors have chosen to ease social distancing restrictions and mandatory business closures despite models that indicate that COVID-19 infection rates and deaths will continue to increase in the next few weeks without adherence to intervention measures, reported CNN. The CDC and global experts agree that the death toll is likely to rise without continued social distancing, according to the CDC.
Georgia, Texas, Michigan, Hawaii, and Alaska have eased contact reduction mandates, per the instructions of their respective governors, despite evidence that reopening too soon could lead to more deaths and the fact that some of these states do not meet the reopening criteria established by the White House, CNN reported. According to the guidelines in Trump’s plan to “Open Up America Again,” states should only reopen if the number of folks infected with COVID-19 in their state has been decreasing for 14 days and they have the capacity to test, track, and care for any new people infected.
The state of Georgia does not meet these federal requirements, but Kathleen Toomey, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health, told CNN that Georgia was, “approaching a plateauing, which made us feel that [reopening] would be safe to move forward.” It might be reassuring that a state health commissioner “feels safe,” except that reputable models estimate that Georgia should not reopen until at least June 28th, two months from now.
Signs that distancing measures are easing caused a leading source of forecasting data, the University of Washington's Institute for Help Metrics and Evaluation, to increase their predicted U.S. death toll from 67,641 to 74,000, CNN reported. That means that over 6,000 Americans could die because their governors are anxious to get back to business. Over 988,400 Americans have already been infected with COVID-19 and 56,200 have already died from it. From a quick look at the data, it seems like governors like Georgia’s Brian Kemp are keeping us right on track to suffer as many losses as possible.
To be clear, Georgia is not the only place that people are at risk. The CDC and seven nonpartisan teams of scientists agree that the more Americans reduce contact, the more lives we save. Yes, the data shows that death tolls will inevitably continue to rise, but also that our actions have a significant impact on those numbers. So, the bad news is that thousands of people could die if we don’t stay at home. But, the good news is that we can choose to disregard the callous political maneuvers of our elected officials and stay home whether they tell us to or not. We have, in this moment, an unprecedented opportunity and responsibility to be the heroes we wish we had, and all we have to do to win our capes is stay on the couch.