The apparent lack of a grand plan is one of the most frustrating aspects of Trump’s daily updates. Every day, he’s got some new or speculative development. We’re close to a vaccine one day. We’ve found an effective treatment the next. We’re social distancing for two weeks and then, as of yesterday, we’re going to be “open for business” by Easter. Who knows whether it’s true or not. Regardless, we’ve got no concrete plan to weather this storm either medically or economically.
In North Carolina, Roy Cooper seems to have at least have a process and method. He’s slowly shutting down the state, preparing citizens for what could be a long period of isolation while keeping businesses open as long as possible. He started by closing the places where people gather in groups. First came the schools where kids are in large classroom settings. Next, came the bars and restaurants where groups may be smaller but still close proximity and where plates and glasses become vectors for the virus. Today, a host of other businesses like movie theaters, hair and nail salons and gyms shut down today.
Yesterday, we began seeing regional shelter-in-place orders. Mecklenburg County announced one yesterday. Durham will announce one this morning and several counties and towns are starting today, too. I suspect the rest of the Triangle will begin shelter-in-place orders soon.
The goal is to keep the economy moving as much as possible as long as possible. By isolating, we’re trying to keep hospitals from becoming overwhelmed. In essence, we’re buying time to build up a more coordinated response. That needs to come from the federal government, though, and it’s not.
Instead of giving false hope, the federal government should let us know what to expect. States may be monitoring the movement of people and businesses, but only Washington can provide significant economic guidance. We can’t separate out the economic response from the medical one because the two are intricately linked. Losing 2.5 millions Americans to coronavirus over a year or so may be as devastating to the economy as trying to put it on hold for three months or so.
Regardless, we need a plan and the American people deserve to know what it is. Veering from place to place every day is not giving confidence to citizens or businesses. We need leadership now.
Thomas Mills is the founder and publisher of PoliticsNC.com. Before beginning PoliticsNC, Thomas spent twenty years as a political and public affairs consultant. Learn more >