Yesterday Kay Ivey announced plans to scale back Alabama’s response to the Corona Virus “stay at home” order and replace it upon it’s expiration at 5:00 on April 30th with a new so-called “safer at home” order. The new order, however, is onerous for more than one reason, and in fact, all reasonable estimations would suggest scaling back should have begun a week ago on Monday, April 20th.
The biggest factor stoking Alabama’s irrational group psychosis is that virtually all news media reports, news conferences by government officials, including President Donald Trump, and all local news reports and press conferences, are based on the tragedy that has unfolded in New York. This isn’t New York, but for some reason, it’s repugnant to discuss the local numbers while the national death toll, which now stands at a grievous 60,474, is hammered in everyday. No doubt, the Corona Virus is a terrible scourge and we must deal with it as quickly and safely as we can, but we must also be rational and look at the data.
The death toll in New York is nearly 30% of the national total at 17,638. The per capita death rate in New York state is 91 per 100,000 people. In my estimation, this extremely high rate is because New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio failed to take the necessary and appropriate steps early on, namely, shutting down the shoulder to shoulder crowded New York City subway system. Later the experts will argue exactly what they did wrong, and whether they should face criminal charges. But, the current death rate is indisputable and in fact comes from the New York Times. There are 91 deaths per 100,000 people in New York State.
Also from the New York Times, the death toll in the State of Alabama now stands at a total of 242. Right away you can see the enormous disparity in numbers, but lest you think Alabama is simply less populated, that doesn’t begin to account for the vast difference. New York’s current population is around 20 million, while Alabama’s current population is around 5 five million. In other words, Alabama has about one fourth the population of New York. If Alabama had the same death rate as New York, we would have now have 4410 total deaths – not 242. The per capita death rate in Alabama, as per the New York Times, now stands at 5 per 100,000 people – giving us the mercifully low, while still grievous, total. People in New York State are dying from Corona Virus 18 times more than in Alabama.
So good and fine, Alabama and Kay Ivey did something right. But unfortunately, the equation is complicated and less now could actually be worse later on. The fact is while there is disagreement about how the virus will persist this summer – I believe it will be mostly dormant – virtually everyone agrees (even me) that there is the potential for the virus to hit next fall and winter, and it could even be more aggressive than what we’ve seen so far. Most also believe that those who have already been exposed are likely to have some level of immunity. Therefore New York will have a huge herd immunity next fall and Alabama will be a sitting duck with virtually no herd immunity. That might lead to much higher death rates than we are seeing now.
But of course, there’s still more to the equation. Pretty much everyone is feeling the economic crisis. On one particular day a few weeks ago, the stock market actually plunged, one more day, loosing barely short of half it’s total value in about a month. It has rebounded, but still lingers with a thirty per cent loss. Unemployment continues to rise and forecasts are for a jobless rate greater than the Great Depression of 1929. But, that’s only part of the productivity calculation because so many more are furloughed and while they are receiving a payday, they are not productive. Reports have already indicated disruptions in the food chain of vegetable and dairy products, and the latest calamity is the closure of more than 20 meat processing plants to which President Trump has responded with a mandatory “stay open” order. It’s also important to remember, the disruptions and shortages are not just in the United States, they are worldwide.
It is the kind of equation that leads to war. One revelation I’ve seen is that many of the socialists actually believe the way to cure the whole problem is stay at home and print more money. It doesn’t work that way. It’s a disaster that has occurred throughout history, and in fact has more recently played out in Venezuela. Free money is worthless money and finally looses all it’s value. If a loaf of bread costs a thousand dollars, can you buy it, by printing more money? That’s where war comes in, and it is a world wide problem, and everybody has got nukes. Fortunately, we aren’t there, hopefully, yet.
So, Kay Ivey, tell me why a place like Huntsville / Madison County, where there have been 4 total deaths and a per capita death rate of 1 per 100,000, shouldn’t have opened a little bit more widely and a little bit sooner? You’re far more likely to die in a car wreck in Huntsville than from the Corona Virus. But, you don’t hear anyone saying to permanently park all cars until they are 100% safe. And really, shouldn’t we be doing our part to take up the economic slack while other places with far greater risks reopen more slowly? And if a few more of the herd are inarculated from the exposure, isn’t that a good thing too?
Aside from waiting two weeks longer than she should have to begin reopening Alabama for business, I also believe Governor Ivey has miscalculated what to open, and quite frankly, shown a feminist bias is so doing. I agree with almost everything that’s allowed to reopen, but believe restaurant dining rooms should also have been allowed to reopen last week. The dining room at 50% occupancy and carefully spaced or designated tables, would be just fine. Bars, not so much.
However, Ms. Ivey actually allowed for reopening daycares. WTF!? Rugrats are the preeminent asymptomatic spreaders of any contagion. They go home, have no symptoms and visit grandparents and other family and whatever-it-is spreads like wildfire. The reality that young children are often in contact with the elderly is especially troubling. This is where inarculation should NOT be taking place. The only conclusion I can come to for this irresponsible decision is that keeping children at home would be inconvenient for working moms. Sorry, I just can’t view risking the health of elderly people as a matter of daycare convenience.
Alabama Governor Kay Ivey did a good thing by over reacting quickly and effectively to contain the Corona Virus. Lives have been spared in the State of Alabama. Thank God, we are not dropping like flies like in New York. But, there’s such a thing as too much for too long and I think that’s where she landed. There are variables, and maybe with luck and the grace of God, the Corona Virus will not reemerge aggressively next fall and winter. In that case, all will likely be well and our economy and lives will continue on a path to recovery. But, that’s a mighty big if, to play it too safe now.
©2020 – Jim Casey