As Chester County moves toward Yellow, let’s all be smart about COVID-19

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By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times @mikemcgannpa

So, on June 5, Chester County moves to Yellow status.

Obviously, it is good news. It means some of our businesses will reopen and some of our people will go back to work. In some ways, life will go back to something approaching normal.

It appears the county will go to Green status by the end of next month — meaning even more things will open, including bars and restaurants.

But life will not be back to normal for quite some time. Aside from restrictions in restaurants when we get to Green — lowered capacity, social distancing — you wonder whether people will be willing to go out to eat any time soon. You also have to wonder whether people will have the money to go out to eat, as the economy is likely to be wounded for some time to come.

It’s been bad, but it will get better — but we all need to be careful or it will get worse again. Pandemics tend to have a second wave that is worse than the first. There is a very real possibility that we will get hit again and maybe worse — and despite claims from President Donald Trump, states, including this one, will close down again if it happens again.

Already, according to The Washington Post, 24 states have COVID-19 R rates (the number of people infected by a sick person) over 1. When the rate is more than one, a disease spreads exponentially. When it is less than one, it shrinks away slowly. The lockdown in Pennsylvania reduced the number to below 1. But those 24 states could see a bloom in new cases — like Texas (and apparently Georgia and Florida, though it appears both states cooked their case numbers). That suggests this thing is coming back — when it spreads in other states, it inevitably comes to neighboring states.

So, and I’m not trying to be a prophet of doom, the odds are high we’ll see a resurgence in the fall. How bad it is — and how much we have to shut down — will depend upon how well people do in the next few months in terms of wearing masks, keeping distant and being smart.

There are too many people out there telling you not to observe social distancing or not to wear a mask or that COVID-19 is a “hoax”  — a large percentage of which (half by some estimates) are Russian bots on social media. 100,000 dead Americans should be proof enough of how dangerous this virus is and that we must remain vigilant.

And let’s take a moment to address the political thugs (i.e. GOP state legislative members and some local “business” groups) taking a victory lap over Wolf’s decision.

Were it up to these lovely people (the ‘kill off grandma to keep my business rolling’ crowd), it seems about 7,000 more people in Philadelphia would have died had Wolf not moved quickly to lock things down, according to a new study by Drexel University. I’ve said for weeks, that Philadelphia would have ended up looking like Brooklyn — which has had more than 4,000 deaths – were it not for Wolf’s actions.

That’s not to say everything Wolf has done has been beyond criticism — Dr. Rachel Levine’s Department of Health has been a hot mess, unable to generate consistent information, flip flopping on rules and worst of all, totally failed to monitor and intervene effectively with long-term care facilities, where the death toll turned out to be the highest. And no, don’t get me started on Mariner East II — which mysteriously got a waiver to keep on working (and to this day, workers on the project ignore social distancing and are not wearing masks, based on photos sent to me of late).

But Wolf got the big things right — he moved more aggressively than other governors to shut things down — and he saved lives. Lives — your mother, brother, cousin, or maybe you — that would have been lost had Wolf listened to the “stay open” crowd.

Come November, people need to remember folks who were so willing to trade your life for the sake of business earnings. I get the toll on business — I own two — and it stinks. But I also know that having your customers dead is lousy for the business in the long term. And yes, government should have done more and better for small business — but that’s a topic for another column.

I hear all the arguments about drug overdoses and suicides caused by the economic turmoil — how somehow those numbers will outstrip unrestrained COVID-19 deaths. They won’t, tragic as they are. And, honestly, where was the concern from these same legislators who advocated pumping handguns into the economy (15,000 people die from gun suicides yearly) and I missed the angst when so many of them were taking fat campaign contributions from companies shilling opioids.

Spare me your false concern.

It’s about the money — your money or that of your campaign contributors.

We have a chance in Chester County to make June a month of renewal, rebirth and reinvention. But we have to be smart. Take it slow, be cautious.

I don’t want to be writing in October about what we should have done to prevent another, worse, outbreak. Keep doing your part, ignore the tiny, selfish cadre of naysayers and we will get through all of this.

In the end, it truly is up to you.

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  1. Silence Dogood says:

    ^^^ The comment above is INSANE ^^^

    It’s people like this that will push us back to red. “Won’t get sick, again?” (Not proven yet) Relying on sunlight to keep you safe…. so…. instead of wearing masks?

    Yes… yes many people are smarter than you.

    It’s interesting that the folks who hate when States decide to do something on their own under a Republican President cry out “State Rights” when there is a Democratic President.

    Yeesh people.

    Listen, if you are fine with sacrificing 1% to 3% of the population so you can get a haircut or watch football, that’s a fine stance to have. But don’t wrap yourself in the flag and cry out tyranny while the rest of the population is trying not to… die.

  2. djaymick says:

      Editor’s note: due to the signing of an executive order requiring online publishers to not censor right-wing lunatics, we will now go to active fact checking and editing. If you don’t like it, too bad. I pay the rent around here.

    Russia, Russia, Russia.

      Yes, Russia. They’ve been most of the bot activity supporting reopening. Like Republicans, it serves their purposes if a lot of us die.

    Here we go again. Instead of denigrating half the PA population, how about the facts.

      It’s not half the population. It’s about 20% who think masks are cowardly. They also live in their parent’s basement and can’t get a date.

    First off, you get the virus, you won’t get sick again.

      Not in any way proven. It’s a guess how long you get immunity. You got a cold (a Coronavirus) and you never get one again? Nope.

    Two, sunlight (UV lighting) is a natural disinfectant.

      Ah, nope. UVC kills COVID-19. And people. UVB and UVA don’t do much. UVC is filtered by our atmosphere or we’d have never crawled out of the ocean.

    Three, the state has created a lot of this problem. Watching the “medical expert” demand nursing home facilities to take in the sick, while she sneaks her mother out the back door, demonstrates their “care” in all of this.

      The state was by no means perfect, but unlike Donald Trump, they did something. They were hampered by a severe lack of PPE and testing — Trump’s fault, too — and did the best they could with what they knew at the time. Some of it was wrong and they moved to correct it.

    I’m sick of listening to liberals demanding they are smarter than us and how we should listen to them.

      Your response proves that we’re smarter and better educated than you. So, yeah, you should listen to doctors and experts, not some clown on Fox News who didn’t graduate college.

    They have made it their mission to destroy the economy, the only way to get Trump.

      Wow. A. We don’t need to get Trump, he’s doing fine on his own self-destructing. As Napoleon said, “when your enemy is making a mistake, don’t get in his way.” We need and have jobs and watch Republicans destroy the economy every time one is in the White House and then a Democrat comes in, fixes the mess — and rinse and repeat.

    They won’t look at Sweden and how their model worked.

      Swedens’s death rate is vastly higher than other European countries. Would you be OK with 500,000 deaths or more to make sure you can keep a business open?

    They won’t listen to leading institutions (Stanford) if it means a faster reopening. I’m also tired of listening to the media blasting Trump for dictating to governors, only to see themselves blasting governors for not doing what they wish.

    They will blast every medical breakthrough that is made and any prediction that contrasts theirs.

      You mean like hydroxychloroquine which literally kills people without making anyone better?

    They even blast the same people who worked among the Obama and Trump Presidencies. These people were great under Obama, hacks under Trump.

      Everyone seems down with Fauci. Some of the others were not front and center and haven’t performed well.