Clearly not ready to lead

by | Mar 18, 2020 | 2020 election, coronavirus, Editor's Blog | 8 comments

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.”


  1. Russell Becker, J.D., Ph.D.

    After reading the article from the Stanford U. epidemiologist, the reader is treated to a long, drawn-out blathering by Ron Collins, who mindlessly puts “retail” on a pedestal as the possible solution. The Covid-19 pandemic is the clearest example of the failure of naked conservativism. Had our genius leader not closed the pandemic group in the National Security system and fired its scientists, we MAY have had the lead-time to make the tsunami which threatens to inundate our healthcare system into a mere unusually high tide. That is already the case in New York and Seattle. Unfiltered conservatism and the free market have contributed to our meager response–we now have a shortage of protective gear which must be used by front-line healthcare workers. The failure to stockpile sufficient protective gear (it can be used for other medical crises as well) will always occur without “government” intervention–private business has no incentive to purchase necessary protective gear and to safely store it until it may be needed. This failure has demonstrated that there is a role for at least SOME degree of government involvement in the healthcare system.

    I am a former biomedical scientist and retired attorney who teaches a physician assistant course in Healthcare Law and Ethics. The “ethics” of naked conservatives appears to be almost absent.

  2. Georgia Bowen MPA

    Thank You Gov. Cooper! We, my UNC college educated family and friends, all commend you on your proactive leadership that has likely saved countless lives. You have remained steps ahead of the White House, and for that we are so very grateful. Unfortunately, we still have a long way to go as a state and as a nation, and still far, far too many people are not heeding the warnings of the Italian people, and are not grasping the gravity of this global emergency. I fear many do not understand basic statistics and modeling.. or math. Today, (day 4 of complete social distancing with my partner our 3 teenagers), we went on a hike in the mountains (I do hope the state parks stay open!). During the drive, I was appalled to see (out my window) how many people everywhere that were ignoring all the rules of social distancing. I already have 4 friends here in NC waiting on COVID-19 test results, and dozens more who are symptomatic but are being denied tests due to the devastating shortage (two are hospital nurses). The point is that without firmer restrictions, people are not going to listen. Also, when will we have tests?!?!

  3. leonard prosnitz

    I know facts are out of favor in some circles nowadays but Thomas appears to have them well in hand. Consider the risk:benefit ratio of taking drastic action now vs not doing so. If we are overreacting some economic harm done but no lives lost as a consequence. If we do not take action now and the virus spreads to millions . . .

  4. David Reedy

    You’re probably wrong. The population of NC is around 10 million.. The infection number is 66 currently. It doubles every 2.5-3 days =. At a 3 day rate the infected number will be 73984 on April 19th. With a 2% mortality rate that will be 1500 dead. Wait 3 days and it will be 3000. Etc.If total infection rate in NC gets to be 40% (a common national number and our health care is worse than most states) that will be 4 million infected and 80,000 dead!!

  5. Evan

    You predict the virus “…is probably going to kill thousands of North Carolinians.” Such fear mongering is totality irresponsible and without credible evidence. That would be worse than the worst case scenarios that health experts think is possible but unlikely.

    Predictions don’t seem to be your strong suit. It would behoove you to consider Yogi Berra’s admonition when asked in spring training if the Yankees would win the pennant that year. I don’t know, Yogi allegedly replied: “Predictions are hard—-especially when they’re about the future.”

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