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Petri dishes of democracy

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Georgia Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp speaks with supporters after a long election night in Athens, Ga., Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018. Georgia’s hotly contested and potentially historic governor’s race may not be over yet, with Democrat Stacey Abrams and Kemp awaiting the final accounting of absentee and provisional ballots. (Joshua L. Jones/Athens Banner-Herald via AP)

OK then:

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp announced on Monday that gyms, hair salons, nail salons, barbershops, and bowling alleys are among the businesses that will be allowed to reopen in the state on Friday. 

Kemp said during an afternoon press conference that the statewide shelter-in-place order will expire on April 30, however he urged the “medically fragile” to continue to hunker down until May 13. 

The announcement comes even as top health officials maintain that the best way to prevent further spread of the virus at this stage of the pandemic is to continue enforced social distancing.

“These are tough moments in our state and our nation. I hear the concerns of those that I’m honored to serve,” Kemp said. “I am confident that together we will emerge victorious from this war we have been fighting.”

The governor, who cited the pandemic’s heavy toll on the state’s economy, said that some restaurants and movie theaters can reopen on Monday as long as they adhere to social-distancing guidelines. He also gave the green light to churches to hold in-person services.

Kemp has faced criticism for his delayed response to the outbreak, finally issuing a shelter-in-place order weeks after the first reported infections in the state. He also claimed on April 2 that he had only just found out that the virus could be transmitted by asymptomatic carriers.

“Those individuals could have been infecting people before they ever felt bad, but we didn’t know that until the last 24 hours,” the governor said, as he announced the statewide order. 

The governor’s revelation, which he called a “game-changer,” shocked health officials who had been warning for weeks of the risk of those who could spread the disease without exhibiting any symptoms. 

At this point it seems likely that the politics of this are going to play out with a bunch of red states embracing Freedom, and getting hit hard by a resurgence even before the first wave has broken.

The really ugly arguments will probably rev up in the fall, when the second wave starts to build and lots of people start arguing that one million-plus fatalities is just the price we have to pay to water the tree of liberty, etc.

Also Richard Epstein will still have been correct all along, as he will undoubtedly be reminding us at length. (BTW one trick that Epstein keeps trying to pull is to call his initial estimate of 500 total deaths from COVID-19 in the US a “stupid gaffe,” which obscures that fully a week later, after having had time to contemplate this gaffe, he revised his estimate to 2000-2500 deaths, which from a practical standpoint was just as catastrophically wrong as his initial estimate).

. . . Georgia has tested less than one percent of its population, and the epidemic is hitting its poor black rural communities especially hard.

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