Darrell Berkheimer: Some leaders are gambling with our lives
President Donald Trump and the governors in some states are playing Russian Roulette with the lives of our nation’s citizens.
California has been leading a group of states in showing that social distancing can drastically reduce the number of COVID-19 virus cases and deaths.
In addition, several other countries have shown that widespread testing and keeping health care and first responders fully supplied with personal protective equipment also lowers the numbers of cases and deaths.
Yet for more than two months, lacking leadership in our nation’s capital, our federal government failed to do both — and is continuing the failure to provide supplies needed for testing and protection. So is it any wonder why our country, with only 4% of the world’s population, has counted more than 30% of the COVID-19 cases?
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Meanwhile California continues to prove how well social distancing and shelter-in-place are working to reduce the totals. That’s why California, with more than 10% of our nation’s population, and three of our largest cities, has only a little more than 4% of the U.S. coronavirus cases.
But the governors of several states, including a few where numbers of cases have soared as a result of recent outbreaks of COVID-19, want to return to business as usual. They want to keep open or re-open beaches, restaurants, hair salons, theaters, churches and other places where citizens can congregate — and subsequently spread the virus.
What makes them think such actions won’t spread the virus, and result in killing more of our citizens? And by providing for the virus to spread in their states, won’t they also endanger the rest us?
Why do they think our medical experts continue to warn us about the possibility of second and third waves of the pandemic, as they emphasize that we have insufficient testing and protection supplies to allow us to re-open?
And we know that diseases and viruses have no respect for state and national boundaries.
I also don’t buy the argument of several governors who are resisting mandatory stay-at-home orders by claiming fears of infringing on personal liberties. That cop-out strikes at the heart of why we even have government.
So let’s re-examine just what duties and obligations we assign to our governments.
Aren’t governments expected to provide security for their citizens?
We expect governments to provide us with as much protection as possible from the ravages of catastrophes and disasters such as floods, earthquakes and, of course, from pandemics such as the coronavirus. But we also expect governments to provide us with security from others in our society who might threaten us. In other words, your personal liberty must end when you threaten my personal liberty.
Aren’t these the basic reasons why we have government?
We expect governments to provide us with laws, regulations and restrictions to protect us from businesses, big corporations, and even our neighbors who might threaten our lives and welfare by their actions.
And it relates to our guns problem as well.
I don’t care how many guns you buy or own. That’s your business. But if you use them to threaten me, then I expect government to take them away from you.
We also expect government to enact laws, regulations and restrictions to protect those who might put toxic substances in the air and our waters — substances that can maim and kill us.
Therefore, I also expect government to take actions to keep you from congregating and spreading the virus to others who might spread it to me, or friends and family who live in your states.
Governments are a cooperative venture. And our most prominent example is the cooperation of the original 13 colonies to create our United States — to provide us with security from the tyranny of Great Britain.
And in case you have not understood my point by now, I will be more blunt. I expect the governors of other states to adopt mandatory measures to keep the virus from spreading not only to my state, but to any other states where friends and family live.
The liberties of residents in your state must end when they threaten the liberties of us in our state.
So I believe governors are obligated not to gamble with the lives of citizens in their states, which eventually could gamble with the lives of us here in California.
It also should be obvious that I expected the president of our country to take the lead in adopting policies and executive actions to protect us from COVID-19 rather than gamble with our lives. But as he has displayed so often, he is concerned only about himself.
The Centers for Disease Control issued its first warning on Jan. 8 about a possible pandemic. And the first U.S. case was confirmed in Washington state on Jan. 20.
Even after the impeachment issue was settled by a negative vote in the Senate on Feb. 5, our President Trump was more interested in playing golf three times, and holding rallies in five states before being forced to recognize on March 11 the pandemic that already began taking many lives of our citizens.
As late as Feb. 28, at his rally in Charleston, S.C, he referred to the coronavirus as the Democrats’ “new hoax” — despite repeated warnings by U.S. medical experts.
And he continues to gamble with our lives by his administration’s failures to provide the testing and personal protection equipment needed, in addition to fostering the re-opening of businesses that can be expected accelerate the spread of the virus.
It is bad enough the way he wastes our tax monies and usurps the time of federal employees for his personal endeavors, but is there anything worse than a willingness to waste the lives of our citizens?
Darrell Berkheimer, who lives in Grass Valley, is a frequent contributor to The Union. He has seven books available through Amazon. His sixth, Essays from The Golden Throne, includes 60 columns published by The Union, plus a dozen western travel and photo essays. Contact him at email@example.com.
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