Who is ready for the big reopening?

The people in the U.S. are set to witness what will be a jump-start for either business or COVID-19 cases. The whole world will be anxiously watching.

Human life cannot and should not be subjected to trial and error. One may get fortuitously good results, but one also may not.

The measures aimed at stopping the spread of the virus have been lackadaisical, especially in the U.S., which so far has had over 30,000 deaths. Again, the U.S. ratio of COVID-19 cases per 1 million is the highest after Spain at 2,144 and 4,052, respectively.

According to ArsTechnica’s Beth Mole, experts say “Hell no! States aren’t ready for Trump’s phased reopening,” which, incidentally, seeks to reopen gyms in its first phase. The Daily Beast informs us that Stephen Ross, owner of luxury fitness brands Equinox and SoulCycle, called U.S. President Donald Trump about it. Laurence Gostin, the director of the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University, said that “Gyms are like a petri dish. … People are close to one another, they’re sweating, they’re coughing and sneezing, they’re touching multiple surfaces, they’re sharing equipment, they’re indoors. Literally all of the heightened risk factors for COVID-19 transmission are all entwined together in a gym.”

The same is true for schools, youth camps, churches and other communal gatherings that Trump’s phase two seeks to open.

When you look at the preparedness list of the states you observe one thing: they hardly meet the requirements of a phased schedule for reopening guidelines the White House published. Yet, the governors of the red states would like to allow employers to open their business and people to resume essential and nonessential air travel. We know airplanes are especially good at distributing viruses.

But if you listen to the celebrity doctors on daytime TV, you’d know that the mortality rate will increase only 2% to 3% if you open schools now. Only two or three points! Even a one-point difference means 7,000 more dead people. The clinically cool terminology of statisticians and doctors normally needs interpretation. When they say a 2% to 3% increase in mortality, they mean thousands of fathers, mothers, sons and daughters will die.

Governors are worried about unemployment rates, business losses and decreasing revenues. They are anxious to end their stay-at-home orders at the end of the month and resume commerce by May 1. So does the president, who only rescinded his claim to the U.S. throne and stopped short of ordering all his subjects to go back to work simply because he badly wants to get reelected and any misfortune, like having another 30,000 dead fathers and mothers and kids, could be used against his election campaign.

There are two schools of thought: open the store one day earlier than your neighbor and thus make more bucks, or listen to the doctors and keep the shop closed for one more month. In other words: listen to Dr. Anthony Fauci or to Dr. Mehmet Oz.

In fact, behind these two courses of action lies a major philosophy about the contagion of epidemics. There are several websites offering valuable insights on historical contexts and public-policy implications of previous pandemics. One major approach appears to be “herd immunization.” If I am not mistaken, it simply says, as Prime Minister Boris Johnson expressed and practiced personally, that governments should let people get sick; if they die, they are dead; if they survive, they are immunized. What does 30,000 more dead cost a global economy or 7,000 more for a regional leader? It was a scarcity of hospital beds during previous epidemics; now countries need medical ventilators to help COVID-19 patients. The Chinese Alibaba site sells them for a grand a pop. If you have 20,000 people in hospitals, you do the math. Johnson, Trump and their ilk imply that allowing the virus to do its thing is cheaper.

If we belong to that herd, they will continue to be presidents and prime ministers.

Source: Daily Sabah

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About the author

Hakki Ocal

Hakki Ocal

Hakkı Öcal is a columnist at both Daily Sabah and Milliyet newspapers, which are based in Istanbul. He is also an advisor to the President of Ibn Haldun University.