On March 1st, I left the CPAC 2020 conference in Washington D.C. and traveled back to my home in southern California. The trip was uneventful…pleasant, even. I have a memory of being in the Uber on a sunny afternoon, watching the scenery go by, not thinking about much at all besides the trip ahead. I guess it’s burned in my memory because it was the last truly “normal” day I had…although I couldn’t have imagined such a benign day would be so precious in mere weeks.
The first days of hashtag-quarantine-life were terrifying. The models were terrifying. Watching the President and Mr.Pence look more and more fatigued with each briefing was terrifying. Hearing how every nation in the world was shutting down their economy was terrifying. The United States was in the middle of the most thrilling economic boom in modern history and Donald Trump is a businessman. If he was saying we need to shut it all down, that meant we must be on the brink of something historically dangerous. We were facing millions of deaths. It seemed unthinkable but to “bend the curve” to merely hundreds of thousands of deaths would be a victory and it would require an enormous sacrifice on the part of the American people.
So that’s what we did. We reported for duty to our couches and home offices. We accepted the layoffs and turned to each other for help. We watched business after business close. We watched unemployment skyrocket overnight. We lost our savings, our futures, and our retirement plans. We gave up everything because that’s what Americans do when it comes to preserving our nation. We sacrifice.
But then we started noticing something. The numbers weren’t adding up. Oh sure, when we heard Dr. Birx telling us those percentages it was sobering, but when we started looking at what that meant in real-time, the concern didn’t seem to match the increase. In Los Angeles, the mayor fretted over a doubling of the mortality rate in just a few days but a look at the numbers showed that doubling meant they went from around 200 to 400…in a population of four million. Considering the horrific homeless problem that still remained it seemed almost impossible that the number would be that low. As of today, the mortality count in the City of Angels stands at 848.
In Orange County and Ventura County (LA county’s closest neighbors), the mortality counts currently stand at 36 and 16 respectively.
We’re not even close to the level of horror we were told to expect even with social distancing measures. Certainly, social distancing has helped bend the curve. You don’t need to be a scientist to understand the mechanics of that. But even so, particularly in a place like Los Angeles, shouldn’t we have at least seen a giant leap in pre-quarantine infection rates? After all, until early March Californians were still going to Lakers games and arena concerts and hockey games and Disneyland…millions and millions of people were still gathering in close quarters. If the threat of COVID were really that pronounced shouldn’t we be seeing a large swath of the population infected during that time?
848 COVID deaths in Los Angeles. In a population of four million.
Yet, the state remains closed. Almost every state does. Not only that, our local and state leaders seem to be relishing their newfound powers over free people. While the American economy spirals and people wonder how they’ll pay rent next week, governors and mayors across the nation have reached new levels of petty…closing beaches and parks, ordering “non-essential” parts of stores roped off, arresting people for surfing or playing basketball alone.
At this point, it feels vindictive.
The numbers aren’t matching up. I’ve been holding my tongue on this lest I be labeled an “anti-science granny-killer” by the Quarantine-for-Life crowd but enough is enough. At some point, common sense must see the light of day. I’m a grown woman. I’m an intelligent woman. I’ve lived a lot of life and I’m not an idiot. What I see does not add up in the light of what is happening in this country. Even the numbers in New York — the hardest hit of our cities — though tragic, are nowhere near the numbers that would justify destroying the strongest economy in the world.
Two months ago, we were looking at millions dead. Today it’s thousands. Sure, we’ve been social distancing like crazy but even factoring in for that…we’re still not seeing it.
Anecdotally, I’ve noticed that the people who keep insisting on extended lockdowns are the people who are still getting paid. And you know which huge group is still getting paid? Government employees. I don’t know if there is something about being one of the lucky people to still have a paycheck that makes one grossly incurious, but it doesn’t seem like there’s a lot of empathy coming from the people in government right now. If you have a friend with a government job ask them if they think the economy should reopen or we need to quarantine through the summer. I’m willing to bet the majority will say we need to stay quarantined.
My own governor, Gavin Newsom, has been on television every day looking concerned and somber and telling us we may need to get used to this new normal. Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti is saying Angelinos cannot look forward to any kind of large gatherings until at least 2021. The entertainment capital of the world can’t have a sporting event until 2021? That’s half of Los Angeles’ economy right there.
You may say that they’re just making the tough choices to keep us safe, but these people aren’t living our lives. Perspective is everything and the perspective of these people is one from an ivory tower. So it’s time to start testing their resolve, their commitment to the health of the American people. It’s time to stop paying public employees. It’s time to stop paying Congress, stop paying the governors, stop paying Eric Garcetti and his bloated city council. Let them go two months without a paycheck and let’s see how that changes their perspective (and don’t be fooled, a lot of these people live paycheck-to-paycheck to fund their extravagance). If we’re still being quarantined like this after they’ve missed their rent, their mortgages, their car payments, their fees for their concierge doctors, then we know the problem is worth the solution after all.
But I’m willing to bet the opposite will happen. The virus numbers might not look as scary when you’re facing the prospect of losing your livelihood. And none of these people have any other usable skills. They’re talking heads, empty suits. They live for the spotlight. They need these jobs.
It’s time to open up. We’re not all New York City. The models have been woefully off from the start and yet, our leaders continue to govern as if we’ve lost the millions of lives to COVID originally predicted. We don’t have to be medical experts to see with our own eyes that the price we’re paying far exceeds the threat. Summer is creeping up and it is entirely unreasonable to expect Americans to sit in their homes and stare at empty beaches, pools, restaurants, and streets during the most economically productive time of the year in most parts of the nation. Will we see infection spikes? Surely. Will they match the models? If real life is any proof (and dammit, it should be the ultimate proof), not at all. California remains “closed” even as Governor Newsom sent off thousands of PPEs to NYC, as well as sending ventilators and doctors. We don’t need them and yet we’re still locked down?
Yank the salaries of these jokers. And yes, I’m fully aware that some of you lower-level employees will suffer too and I’m sorry for that but welcome to real America, where your job is not secure and your pain doesn’t matter. Maybe you’ll start pressuring your bosses to end this madness and we can all get on with picking up the pieces. It’s not too late to save this economy, but we need to get going.
Cut them all off and watch how fast all this ends.