Moe Davis: Business as Usual Too Dangerous For Western North Carolina

There’s an unmistakable streak of cruelty that emanates from this president and runs throughout his administration, which has targeted immigrants and Muslims, separated babies from their mothers and caged them, lauded racists and Nazis and even blamed China for the coronavirus, leading to verbal and physical attacks on Asian Americans.

There seems to be no line of common decency and basic humanity this administration won’t cross.

So it is hardly surprising that now they are targeting older Americans. Apparently, they believe it is cost effective for our government to put at risk and sacrifice those who are most vulnerable in order to boost the stock market before the November elections. It doesn’t seem to matter how many American dead are required to prop up the Dow.

That’s the message the president is delivering with his edict that business be back open by Easter. Even as evidence shows the shelter-in-place mandates throughout the country are helping to flatten the curve and limit the spread of coronavirus, Trump has announced he wants people back at work in three weeks. It’s arbitrary and likely counterproductive, given that the spread of the coronavirus is not happening everywhere at the same time and at the same intensity.

Returning to business as usual prematurely could be devastating for Western North Carolina. It is clear the spread of the virus is just in the beginning stages here. Containment is hardly assured and we need to be ever vigilant in preventing this currently incurable virus from infecting larger swaths of our community. We need more time and we need to pay greater deference to the judgment of our medical professionals.

Most critically, it puts at risk those most vulnerable to the coronavirus: Older Americans. As much as 23 percent of the population of Western North Carolina is over 65. That’s 172,500 of our friends, family and neighbors at risk. If even half are exposed to the virus, that’s 86,250 people (Using conservative exposure and fatality estimates,* this could lead to the deaths of almost 7,000 senior citizens in Western North Carolina).

Do we really want to sacrifice them to help Madison Avenue’s bottom line? Is that the kind of cruel and heartless country we have become?

The key to improving our economy and getting back on track is controlling the spread of this virus, not opening the doors to churches on Easter Sunday and exposing people to greater risk to appease Trump’s ego.

We can’t afford to be cavalier and careless in Western North Carolina.

*Oke, Jason, and Carl Heneghan. “Global Covid-19 Case Fatality Rates.” The Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine, Oxford University, 25 Mar. 2020, www.cebm.net/global-covid-19-case-fatality-rates/.

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