By Daniel Bobinski
In March we learned a new phrase. “Flatten the curve.” As the LA Times explained to its readers:
“[S]pace out the inevitable infections so that the healthcare system isn’t overwhelmed with patients — a practice they call flattening the curve.” [emphasis in original]
Note the purpose: So that the healthcare system isn’t overwhelmed.
Four days later, the White House and the Centers for Disease Control published “The President’s Coronavirus Guidelines for America.” At the top of the page it says the guidelines were issued “To slow the spread of coronavirus.” Not stop it. Slow it.
On March 25, the Surgeon General said during a radio interview that he didn’t want to “overwhelm our healthcare systems. And that’s what flattening the curve is all about.” [emphasis added]
On April 6, CBS News told us, “By flattening the curve, officials hope to ensure that the health care system doesn't become overwhelmed and unable to help those who need it.” [emphasis added]
By now you should see my point. The reason for “flatten the curve” was so we didn’t overwhelm healthcare systems.
Guess what? America achieved that goal.
Whether it was caused by shutdowns or it was just the path the virus took is a subject for further study, but America’s curve flattened out and our health care systems were not overwhelmed. Were some cities pushed to the limits? Yes. Places like New York City and Detroit have been pressed hard. But were America’s hospitals overrun to the point where we had no room for people who needed attention? Nope.
NPR reports that New York’s temporary overflow hospitals remained unused despite the Covid-19 crisis, and the 1,000-bed medical ship USNS Comfort saw a total of 182 patients (only a handful were Covid) before leaving.
The Houston Chronical reports that a $17 million emergency medical shelter was dismantled “after determining that the county will not need the facility to care for COVID-19 patients.”
In Seattle, an army field hospital built on Century Link Field (Seattle Seahawks) was dismantled after three days because there was no Covid surge. Note: The field hospital didn’t see even a single patient.
Dozens of makeshift hospitals were built across the country – at a cost of more than $500,000,000 – but they’ve been dismantled because they weren’t used.
And so, with America’s rate of Covid cases now falling and healthcare systems not overwhelmed, you’d THINK governors would see this as “mission accomplished.” Naturally, you’d want states to watch for any flareups that might overwhelm an area, but you’d THINK governors would be savvy enough to know this virus will continue to spread, and as long as healthcare systems are not overwhelmed, they could relax their lockdowns.
Sadly, you’d be wrong.
Since I live in Idaho, I’ll use our state’s numbers as an example. As of this writing, 72 of my fellow Idahoans have died of Covid. Nearly 2/3 of them were aged 80 or older; 85% of them were over the age of 70. No Idahoan under the age of 50 has died from Covid.
Idaho has 44 counties. Nine counties had Covid deaths. Six counties had between 1 – 6 deaths, and three counties had deaths in double digits, not exceeding 22 deaths. Notably, 35 counties – 79.5% – had zero deaths.
You’d think if Idaho’s governor saw that nearly 80% of his state’s counties has zero Covid deaths, he’d realize that healthcare systems were not being overwhelmed (the purpose of “flatten the curve”) and he’d relax his shutdowns of “non-essential” businesses, at least in those areas.
Like I said, you’d be wrong.
Instead, Governor Brad Little kept the entire state locked down. So much so that people living hundreds of miles away from any Covid deaths were cited for having a garage sale (a "non-essential" business). Suffice it to say, Idaho’s population has become fed up with Little’s illogical decisions. Even the state’s Lieutenant Governor penned an open letter criticizing the Governor.
Graph showing "Date of Onset" for Covid-19 Cases in Idaho
The goal posts morphed – and were moved
The question we must ask is, “Why the change in focus?” In a few short weeks, the mantra of “slow the spread” morphed into “prevent the spread.” It was a subtle shift that happened without fanfare. Even otherwise reputable heath organizations changed their narrative, publishing articles such as, “How to Stop the Spread of COVID-19 With Social Distancing.”
In other words, the mindset in America shifted from “Flatten the curve” to, “Nobody should get the virus at all.” I’m hearing people freak out: “Oh my! My friend caught the virus!” Despite a 99.98% recovery rate overall and 100% recovery rate if someone is under the age of 50 (in Idaho), the media has made us terrified of catching Covid.
I’m not a medical expert, but let me repeat what doctors and officials are saying: “You cannot ‘stop’ the virus.”
Dr. Michael Ryan, at a World Health Organization’s Coronavirus Press Conference: “You can’t stop the virus in any meaningful way.”
Dr. Malcolm Kendrick: “Eradication is virtually impossible with such a highly infectious disease.”
Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts: “You can’t stop the virus from coming.” His stated goal? “Keep the state’s heath care system from being overwhelmed.”
Yet the goal posts keep getting moved. On May 13, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti told George Stephanopoulos, “We’ll never be completely open until we have a cure.” Sadly, even President Trump has bought into the idea that we’re not going back to normal until we get rid of this disease.
If unconstitutional restrictions remain in place until Covid is gone, it does not bode well for America because Covid is not likely to go away. Covid will likely fade in the intensity of its attack, just like H1N1 did, the 2009 novel virus that killed tens of thousands of people. You can still catch H1N1 today, just in a milder form, because that’s the way of viruses.
Practice “prevent the spread” activities, or you’re committing a crime
“Flatten the curve” appears to be part of a bait and switch. They got us to close our businesses and stay home, but now they’re pressing down for what obviously must be a different reason. The healthcare systems are not overwhelmed, so why is it:
- Ten California counties made it mandatory that people wear a facemask just to leave their home, and in two of those counties, the fine for not wearing a mask is $1,000?
- Pastors and parishioners are cited for attending church in one’s car?
- A lone paddleboarder is arrested?
- A young mother is wrestled to the ground by five police officers in front of her young child and removed from a subway station simply for not wanting to wear her mask fully over her nose and mouth?
It’s clear the narrative has shifted away from “Flatten the curve.” Daily on the radio and on TV, newscasters report with deeply concerned voices the number of new Covid cases, often accompanied by a story that has a flavor of tragedy. I call it subliminal fearmongering.
Do not misunderstand. Despite what the Karens and snitches will tell you, nobody wants anyone to die from this virus. But better information would be, “How full are the hospitals?” After all, the real issue is – or was supposed to be – about keeping our healthcare systems from being overwhelmed.
I feel like I’ve become a voice crying in the wilderness, echoing what famed epidemiologist Larry Brilliant said in an interview about Covid-19, “By slowing down or flattening [the curve], we’re not going to decrease the total number of cases, we’re going to postpone many cases.”
Governors are ignoring facts
According to the CDC, 80% of all Covid deaths in America occur in people over the age of 65, with only 0.008% of Covid deaths occurring in people under the age of 35.
Why don’t our governors adjust for that?
In Italy, more than 99% of Covid victims had at least one comorbidity factor. Covid analysis in Cook County, Illinois (Chicago) reveals that 92% of Covid victims had pre-existing (co-morbidity) factors.
You’d think that governors would be making adjustments to their lockdown orders based on that data.
You’d be wrong.
I believe we’ve been suckered into a bait and switch, because now were seeing unconstitutional agendas being enacted in many states. No longer is the focus “don’t overwhelm the healthcare system.” Instead, we’re on the receiving end of unreasonable constraints without a lot of logic behind them.
Thankfully, some governor’s orders have become so unreasonable, citizens are filing lawsuits. Michigan’s Gretchen Whitmer is being sued by medical professionals and a patient for her “drastic, unprecedented [and] unilateral executive actions” based on “grossly inaccurate” models that no longer apply.
Washington State’s governor, Jay Inslee, is being sued by small business owners for his tyrannical lockdown orders.
Florida’s governor, Ron DeSantis, is being sued by multiple plaintiffs for indefinitely extending his ban on vacation rentals.
Our country is in trouble
On a personal level, I hope more people file lawsuits against governors who are ruling rather than governing. I strongly believe that larger agendas are at work behind the scenes, and I’ll be addressing those agendas in a future column.
For now, it’s important to remember our nation’s founders realized that the heart of man can be deceitful and desperately wicked, and that’s why they divided governing power into legislative, executive, and judicial branches. The genius of America is that the power rests with the people. The law serves as a cage to keep men (and women) holding public office from establishing authoritarian rule.
Tragically, in our present crisis, too many public office holders have stepped outside that cage and are using fear of a virus to enact unconstitutional rules. They’ve whipped up so much fear that people I never thought would give up their liberties are willingly doing exactly that. The result? Many Americans are now experiencing what resembles a dystopian police state. And the goal posts seem to move every day.
What we can’t do as Americans is let our elected leaders morph into the role of tin-pot dictators. People holding elected office who are enacting rules that go beyond “flattening the curve” must be voted out. It’s become almost trite, but if I can restate what Benjamin Franklin once said, “Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
Daniel Bobinski, M.Ed. is a certified behavioral analyst, best-selling author, columnist, corporate trainer, and keynote speaker. He’s also a veteran and a self-described Christian Libertarian who believes in the principles of free market capitalism – while standing firmly against crony capitalism.