Yesterday, Governor Cooper ordered all bars and restaurants closed to halt the spread of the coronavirus. While it’s economically and socially painful, it’s a necessary step if we want to save lives. Other states have taken similar measures. All of Italy is essentially on lock-down. 

Lt. Governor Dan Forest issued a press release blasting the move as unconstitutional. His statement read, “His mandate will devastate our economy, shutter many small businesses, and leave many people unemployed, especially in the rural areas of our state where food supply is already critical.” Forest maintains Cooper didn’t have support from the majority of the Council of State members. Coopers says he didn’t need it. 

The episode shows how ill-informed and ill-prepared Dan Forest is to govern. The catastrophe that’s silently but surely approaching is going to probably kill thousands of North Carolinians. Until we have a vaccine in a year or so, the only way to slow its spread is through social isolation. People clearly aren’t going to stay away from crowded areas unless forced to do so. Cooper’s decision showed little concern for political fallout. Forest’s response had all the evidence of political opportunism. Given what’s coming, that’s irresponsible on a colossal level. 

In this situation, people making bad individual decisions will have devastating societal outcomes. The disease has mortality rate of about 15% for people over the age of 80 and about 7% for people in their 70s. While our youngest people are least at risk, they still carry and spread the disease even if they are asymptomatic. We have whole country of Typhoid Mary’s under the age of 30. 

Because leaders in Italy didn’t act quickly enough, their health care system became overwhelmed. The death toll is over 2,500 and rising at a rate of more than 300 people per day with little end in sight. Cooper’s move is meant to prevent the same mistakes and save some lives. Dan Forest either isn’t willing to make that tough call or doesn’t understand its necessity. Either way, he shows he’s not ready to lead. 

As one Italian woman wrote in a letter to America, “For us, it might be too late to avoid an incredible loss of life. But if you decide against taking actions because it seems inconvenient, or because you don’t want to look silly, you can’t say you weren’t warned.”

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