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Freedom Isn’t Free



As President Trump presses for states to reopen their economies, his administration is privately projecting a steady rise in the number of cases and deaths from coronavirus over the next several weeks, reaching about 3,000 daily deaths on June 1, according to an internal document obtained by The New York Times, nearly double from the current level of about 1,750.

The projections, based on modeling by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and pulled together in chart form by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, forecast about 200,000 new cases each day by the end of the month, up from about 25,000 cases now.

The numbers underscore a sobering reality: While the United States has been hunkered down for the past seven weeks, not much has changed. And the reopening to the economy will make matters worse.

Some states that have partially reopened are still seeing an increase in coronavirus cases, including Iowa, Minnesota, Tennessee and Texas, according to Times data. Indiana, Kansas, Nebraska and Arizona also are seeing an increase in cases and are planning on some kind of reopening soon. Alaska has also reopened and is seeing a small number of increasing cases.

While the country has stabilized, it has not really improved, as shown by data collected by The Times. Case and death numbers remain stuck on a numbing, tragic plateau that is tilting only slightly downward.

At least 1,000 people with the virus, and sometimes more than 2,000, have died every day for the last month. On a near-daily basis, at least 25,000 new cases of the virus are being identified across the country. And even as New York City, New Orleans and Detroit have shown improvement, other urban centers, including Chicago and Los Angeles, are reporting steady growth in cases.

This seems to be surprising some people.

I’ve felt from the very beginning that the U.S. was going to be the nation to kill a few hundred thousand of its people AND destroy its economy. And it’s clear that is what is going to happen now. Why should we be surprised? Look around us. When people take assault weapons and blow away six year old kids in schools, we shrug and talk about freedom. We have an entire political party dominated by the sociopathic ideas of Ayn Rand as their central governing principle. We have a large and growing anti-vaccination movement that is not letting a global pandemic get in the way of their fanaticism. We have a nation where people are pulling out guns and even killing people who tell them to wear a face mask in public.

The best guide to understand this has nothing to do with the disease itself. It’s Jonathan Metzl’s Dying for Whiteness, featuring patients literally dying of preventable diseases telling the author they would rather die than have Obamacare. These people aren’t just willing to let other people die so they can their “freedom.” They are willing to LET THEMSELVES DIE so they can have their “freedom.” Whether it is gun culture or health care or whatever else, there are huge numbers of Americans who are OK with death for others and even themselves if it makes them feel more secure in their own twisted ways–about race, about America, about hearing English in the buffet line. This is the America we have been dealing with for a very long time. So of course we aren’t going to do what it takes to limit this crisis. What ever made anyone think we would? And if Hillary was president, we’d probably be seeing even more protests over the shutdown, led by top Republican officials seeking to win this November.

What this all means is that participating in both public health and the economy will be partisan choices. You and I, we might want to stay in and not die. But that’s because we are wussy liberals. Meanwhile, Washington Republicans will be happy to cut off all additional aid to the states based around “the economy,” forcing people back to work and back into the stores. While I agree that we aren’t going to see fans in football stadiums or Springsteen shows anytime soon, we are clearly slipping rapidly from any semblance of caring about public health. And hey, at least the cruise ships will reopen soon!

And while I get that polls say people would rather stay at home, not only do we have our nurses getting tongue piercings on the first day Georgia reopened while also saying people should stay at home, but the anecdata that people are slipping is getting pretty overwhelming. Just this morning, I was walking to my local bakery to get safely picked up bread (mask required, they put it on a chair while you stand back or if you are driving, they will only put it in your trunk). There were kids from different families playing all over the place on the street, with the parents around. Not a single one was wearing a mask. This is the liberal east side of Providence and I’d bet everyone of these people would say people should stay at home and be healthy. But what that means is pretty dicey when it comes to whatever I want to do, which I will define as healthy and safe because it serves my own interests to do so.

In conclusion, it’d be hard to better demonstrate the American character than this.

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