Wolf was right; early reopening is killing people & the economy elsewhere

By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times @mikemcgannpa

A few weeks back, I wrote a column suggesting that the people of Chester County be careful, listen to health experts, wear a mask, wash their hands frequently and continue social distancing as we worked through the process to reopen our county and state, carefully, and slowly.

And while it is clear most of the residents in the county agreed — we continue on course to keep a lid on COVID-19 and have mostly reopened our economy — oh my goodness did I get loving emails and comments attacking me, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Gov. Tom Wolf and so on. I was literally called everything from Fascist to Antifa (go figure) and told to see how great Texas, Florida and Arizona — states that aggressively reopened — were doing and how the virus was overblown, only killed old people in retirement homes and so on.

At the same time, various legislative Republicans — including at least one who represents part of Chester County — were screaming bloody murder about Wolf’s careful, slow reopening of Pennsylvania. Masks? Many GOP legislators refused to wear one. Local alleged business groups whined relentlessly, demanding that the state reopen immediately.

And 24 lunkhead State Representatives are literally trying to impeach Wolf for not steering the ship of state into the iceberg. And Republicans in the Legislature tried and failed to end Wolf’s State of Emergency.

A few weeks later?

While the virus is largely contained in the states that aggressively locked down like Pennsylvania — California and our own Allegheny County are exceptions — but the states that either didn’t lockdown or rushed to reopen COVID-19 are seeing more new cases per day than the supposed peak back in April. And we still have GOP elected officials losing their crap over Wolf’s mask mandate — it’s irresponsible, it’s selfish, but predictably on-brand for the new generation of “me first, screw everyone else Republican Party.”

For too many reasons to list — the biggest one being the rest of us not wanting to get sick and die — these folks should become pariahs, isolated, frozen out and treated with utter contempt.

Thankfully, it is less of an issue locally — most folks are wearing masks because they get that they have a responsibility to others.

Here in Chester County, the numbers are good (although we did see a slight uptick in cases for the first time in weeks) — so far, knock wood — but we’ve only just reopened and we’ll need to watch the trend line carefully.

The point of the lockdown was to allow time to get testing and contact tracing in place. We’ve been marginally successful when it comes to testing — if you live here, you probably can get a test. But in a lot of other states, that’s still not true.

Texas — a state I know well and where I have a small real estate business — has gone to hell. Areas are finally closing down — even beach access in the area where I own property — because the spread has gone so far, so fast since the reopening.

The same stories are true in Arizona — which is dialing back its opening — and Florida, which is not. Many other states are seeing increases as people stop taking COVID-19 seriously.

News flash: the virus was not defeated and is just waiting for us to drop our guard. If we’d had a national plan to contain it and ramp up testing and PPE production, maybe things wouldn’t have turned out so dire. The long-term economic damage will be horrific — we’ll see a very bad slump through the fall, as job losses mount, people lose their homes and cars and consumer demand is choked off. Businesses that barely survived the last shut down will fail during the next phase — shut down or not, people will be afraid to go out any more than needed.

Without massive government intervention, entire industries will disappear — restaurants, movie theaters, bars and concert venues — unlikely to return until the virus is defeated by a vaccine. There will be a ripple effect from suppliers — with countless jobs and businesses lost in the coming months.

Times will be tough.

This is a time for serious people.

Pennsylvania’s elected Republicans generally have not fit that description in this time of crisis, preferring to play politics rather than working together to find common cause in fighting COVID-19. How many more people would have died, how much economic destruction would have been done, if we’d had a Republican governor inclined to go along with this sophomoric behavior?

Long after COVID-19 is finally vanquished, and we have mourned and buried our dead, we will remember who said and did what. Who worked to make it better and who couldn’t be bothered.

There will be a reckoning at the ballot box and in our society.


I normally try to keep my comments and writing to issues related directly to Chester County — but something happened yesterday on the national scene so far beyond the pale that it requires comment on this peaceful Sunday morning.

In a speech Saturday, ostensibly to celebrate the Fourth of July President Donald Trump said:

“We are now in the process of defeating the radical left, the Marxists, the anarchists, the agitators, the looters, and people who in many instances have absolutely no clue what they are doing.”

Defeating fellow Americans for expressing their First Amendment rights? Has an American President ever said anything so fundamentally un-American?

While I do not condone any of the violence or looting we’ve seen (and to be clear, a good amount of the violence came from police rioting), the expression of protest is literally what this country is founded on. Trump would seek to silence the voices of the modern-day versions of John Adams, Patrick Henry and Thomas Paine — all of whom were described in similar terms by King George III.

The fathers (and mothers) of the American Revolution rioted, protested and yes, pulled down statues and were described as little more than “rabble” by the British and the local Tories who supported them.

That rabble, by the way, celebrated our 244th anniversary as a nation, through hard work, perseverance and no small amount of protest and dissent – while creating the greatest country in the world.

We’ve never had a perfect union — only an ongoing battle to create one. That battle defines us as a people.

The last few months have highlighted many of those imperfections and millions of voices — not some disparaging labels, but your fellow Americans — are demanding a better, fairer America. As citizens, we owe it to them to listen, to learn and to see how we can do better, not call them names and hope to shout them down with demagoguery.

When we describe voices demanding fairness and equality as “radical” America has lost its way.

When an American President targets American citizens for their beliefs he is no longer worthy of that office.

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