Yes, reopen, but be guided by science, not emotion or politics.
Wisconsin appears to be falling into the same trap as some other states.
When it comes to reopening the economy as America and, indeed, the world continue to grapple with the coronavirus crisis, conflict is sparking along familiar lines.
In Wisconsin, Gov. Tony Evers—who previously was a step behind his counterparts in other states—leaped to the forefront by extending his shelter-at-home order to May 26. Among other things, that could keep Wisconsin shuttered until after Memorial Day weekend, typically the kick-off to a big summer season.
Democrat Evers’ order was met with some public protests and lots of angry chatter on social media. More importantly, the order moved Republican legislative leaders to challenge Evers with a lawsuit, asking the solidly conservative Wisconsin Supreme Court to bypass lower courts and take up the case directly. They say the governor exceeded his constitutional authority. One might wonder: Did Evers exceed it with his first order that no one protested, or only with his extension?
Across the border, in Illinois, Democrat Gov. J.B. Pritzker has not yet said whether he will extend his stay-at-home order, set to expire at the end of April. But Pritzker and his health advisers have said Illinois coronavirus cases are expected to peak around mid-May, which suggests the likelihood of an extension order at least until then. Meanwhile, Illinois protests, too, look familiar—mostly along party lines, and mostly coming from rural downstate areas rather than Chicago and the more urban north.
Similar patterns emerge across the country. States with Democrat governors are extending shelter orders, while states with Republican governors are moving faster toward reopening. In fact, some states with Republican governors had not put shelter orders out in the first place.
Polling shows the same partisan divide emerging, though support for sheltering remains overwhelmingly strong. An Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs poll reported last week shows only 12% of respondents say measures where they live go too far; 26% say not far enough; and 61% say government orders where they live are about right. Overall, about 80%—including 36% self-identifying as Republicans—believe sheltering requirements should stay in place. But Republicans are about four times more likely than Democrats to say restrictions should be lifted.
From the White House it’s mixed messages. The latest presidential advisory follows medical advice and calls for continued social distancing, masks and staying home as much as possible. Federal medical authorities say extreme caution is still needed. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield even said a second potential wave of viral infections could be more difficult unless people maintain mitigating practices, particularly when colder weather returns.
President Trump signed off on the medical advice, but has made clear he favors reopening the economy as soon as possible. And after first asserting he had total authority to order the 50 states closed or open, he then backed off telling governors they would call their own shots. Within hours, though, he tweeted that it was time to “liberate” certain states, all with Democrat governors.
Extremists on both sides are charging off the cliff, like they always do. Leftists are using the crisis to argue for government medical plans for everyone and taxpayer-supplied universal basic incomes for all. Right-wingers accuse lefties of plotting to make America socialist or communist. Some have even showed up at protests carrying assault weapons.
As we said in a commentary last week, crisis reveals character. For most Americans, who are stoically bearing their burdens and doing their very best to help each other, that character shines through. For others—extremists using a crisis to push their political views—a different character is showing.
Look, reopening the economy safely must be the goal of every reasonable person. The key word in that phrase is safely. Democrat partisans can’t tell us what that means. Republican partisans can’t tell us what it means, either. In fact, the last people we should be listening to right now are the partisans.
People need to work to support themselves and their families. Businesses need to make money, and can’t exist selling take-out burgers or applying for government money for long. A collapsed economy hurts everybody.
But remember, this is not a political crisis. It is a public health crisis. Doctors, scientists and public health authorities are the experts who can tell us the best and safest paths forward.
People, put away your partisan prejudices. Take a breath. Put your anger on the shelf.
Listen to those who know what they’re talking about. The experts. The non-politicians. They want to reopen the country, too. They just want to apply science, and exercise caution. Is that so hard to trust?