It’s time to start the Major League Baseball season. Fans can decide for themselves whether they attend a game and sit apart from each other. The games also would be televised.

It is time to open so-called “non-essential” businesses. People can decide for themselves if they want to patronize a gift shop or restaurant. At least more people would be working.

COVID-19 is not going to end by social distancing. Rather, it will dissipate over time when enough people develop immunity from already being exposed.

Social distancing was originally about “flattening the curve” of cases (or spreading out the rate of infection over time) so as to minimize the simultaneous number of infected persons and mitigate the impact on the hospital system. Otherwise, too many infected would overwhelm the ability to treat them. It has worked, with some brief exceptions, such as the overcrowded hospital in Elmhurst, Queens, in New York City. Hospital beds are now available in the COVID-19 hotspots, and ventilators are in plentiful supply.

During the 2017-18 season, 61,000 Americans died of influenza, 808,000 were hospitalized and an estimated 45 million people were infected. The economy remained open. The COVID-19 pandemic is projected to reach 60,000 deaths.

Restrictions on people should focus on elderly and those with underlying health conditions. Younger people with no underlying health problems are more likely to get killed by or in an automobile than die of coronavirus. Accordingly, the schools should re-open, too.

During this social distancing lock-down, our liberties have been assaulted as some politicians have revealed their inner tyrant.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan issued a stay-at-home order, which included bans on visiting friends and neighbors. She also ordered stores not to sell “non-essential” products. Lawsuits resulted, as did protests outside the Michigan statehouse in Lansing.  The governor also threatened doctors who prescribed hydroxychloroquine.

Then there is the Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear. He had a problem with people going to church on Easter Sunday – even on a “drive-in” basis where people remained in their cars. They were violating his stay-at-home order; he was violating their First Amendment rights.

These two politicians are latest examples of a power trip: when the going gets tough, constitutional freedoms be damned.

Opening the U.S. economy would still take a long time for it to recover. But it must begin.  People can then decide for themselves where to shop, whether to eat out, or attend theater or a sports event. At the very least, the country can avert an economic collapse, maintain social distancing and continue to expand COVID-19 testing.

There is risk. At this writing, more than 32,000 Americans have died from (or with) COVID-19.  This tragic figure is increasing by at least 1,000 daily.  Also, there are 22 million Americans unemployed, which is rising by about one million daily. As mobility increases, so will infections and the number of deaths. But tens of thousands of lives also are at risk if this economic lockdown continues.  Balance and perspective are needed.

Our nation makes so many tradeoffs between economics and death, we hardly notice because they are widely accepted.

Legal, prescription opioids help people in physical pain. But they are addictive and killed nearly 15,000 Americans in 2018, included among more than 67,000 drug-induced deaths that year.

Alcohol killed nearly 73,000 Americans in 2017, more than twice the number from 1999, and 50 percent higher as a ratio of population. Prohibition of alcohol was attempted a century ago, and ended in 1933. Few if anyone seriously think it should be reinstated, even though tens of thousands of people die annually. Instead, more states are legalizing marijuana for recreational use, not just medicinal.  More people will die of DUI-related deaths as a result.

On our nation’s highways, nearly 39,000 people died in 2019.  Fewer people would die if more people drove slower.  Should we reduce—and enforce—the speed limit below 65?  This idea is nowhere under consideration. The federal government in the mid 1970’s imposed a national highway speed limit of 55. Two decades later, that policy was scrapped. Time and money are the basic reasons; and the public supports speed limits higher than 65.

Green organizations have long been willing to accept thousands more roadway deaths resulting from fuel efficient, lighter cars by supporting ever higher corporate average fuel economy mandates imposed by the government.

The Trump administration and governors are considering reopening their economies, and are preparing new social distancing guidelines as more people move about. We need to stop the economic hemorrhaging, and we need our constitutional freedom back, especially from those politicians drunk on their emergency powers.

Author

  • Peter Murphy, a CFACT analyst, has researched and advocated for a variety of policy issues, including education reform and fiscal policy, both in the non-profit sector and in government in the administration of former New York Gov. George Pataki. He previously wrote and edited The Chalkboard weblog for the NY Charter Schools Association, and has been published in numerous media outlets, including The Hill, New York Post, Washington Times and the Wall Street Journal. Twitter: @PeterMurphy26.