America is going the way of Wuhan very rapidly. Consider:
[Connecticut] Gov. Ned Lamont is using emergency powers to prohibit gatherings of more than 250 people to try to check the spread of coronavirus infection, excluding religious services. […]
The executive order prohibits gatherings of more than 250 people for social and recreational events. The prohibition remains in effect until midnight April 30, unless modified by a subsequent executive order.
The current order covers community, civic, leisure, or sporting events, parades, concerts, festivals, movie screenings, plays, performances, and conventions. It does not apply to any spiritual gathering or worship service. […]
The order also states that violation of the prohibition on large gatherings is a felony offense. The crime carries a maximum prison sentence of five years and a maximum fine of $5,000.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday announced a ban on gatherings of 500 or more people across the state “for the foreseeable future” as public officials try to contain the fast-moving coronavirus outbreak that’s spread across 44 U.S. states and infected at least 127,800 people across the world.
How quickly the freedom to socialize in large groups gets thrown out the window over a respiratory virus that has so far killed [checks notes] two people in New York State and zero people in Connecticut. Does this order cover political protests, i.e. freedom of assembly?
That was Thursday. On Saturday, Hoboken, New Jersey became the first city in America to implement a mass curfew:
Hours after announcing that gyms, health clubs, day cares and movie theaters would join the list of closures in Hoboken, Mayor Ravi S. Bhalla announced the forthcoming curfew and additional restrictions.
The citywide curfew that begins Monday will be in effect from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. and requires all residents to remain in their homes, barring emergencies. People who are required to report to work are exempted, the statement released late Saturday said.
What public health purpose is served by banning people from going outside between the hours of 10pm and 5am? Especially when bars, move theaters, etc. have already been ordered closed and restaurants have been ordered to stop serving food on the premises? I don’t know, but I do know that people in a state of terror are easier to manipulate and control.
The newspaper of record has a front-page story today with the headline “The Coronavirus Swamps Local Health Departments, Already Crippled by Cuts.” Imagine my surprise to learn that the headline refers to something other than an uncontrollable wave of sick bodies:
CHICAGO — A widespread failure in the United States to invest in public health has left local and state health departments struggling to respond to the coronavirus outbreak and ill-prepared to face the swelling crisis ahead.
Many health departments are suffering from budget and staffing cuts that date to the Great Recession and have never been fully restored. Public health departments across the country manage a vast but often invisible portfolio of duties, including educating the public about smoking cessation; fighting opioid addictions; convincing the reluctant to vaccinate their babies; and inspecting restaurants and tattoo parlors.
Now, these bare-bones staffs of medical and administrative workers are trying to answer a sudden rush of demands — taking phone calls from frightened residents, quarantining people who may be infected, and tracing the known contacts and whereabouts of the ill — that accompany a public health crisis few have seen before. […]
With the virus now consuming all attention, key functions have been put on hold. Some health departments are now making reductions in home health care and education on unwanted teenage pregnancy and other core issues. In Wayne County, Ohio, the health department called off upcoming seminars to vaccinate people in Amish communities, where parents are often reluctant to immunize their children.
I’m not pointing out the glaring discrepancy between headline and news content in order to minimize the problem that our hospitals are probably ill-equipped, maybe severely so, for a major outbreak – an issue I’ve addressed here.
I would, however, like to call attention to the way the media is fanning the flames of mass hysteria over a novel virus that is still not well understand and has still, despite the chain reaction of extreme global dislocations it has triggered, killed fewer than 6,500 people worldwide since its first documented case in either November or December 2019. And yes, I understand exponential growth, but the data is so vague at this point that it’s safe to assume that any “projection” (of death tolls, etc.) is total conjecture. Complacency is not the answer, but neither is fear.