Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday outlined new guidelines for a phased reopening New York from the coronavirus lockdown in place since late March. The reopening would begin after his New York State on PAUSE executive order ends May 15.
For some New Yorkers, that’s not good enough. They believe the lockdown should end now.
In the critics’ view, the COVID-19 threat has been exaggerated, and stay-at-home orders are an overreaction. They believe the economic damage caused by the lockdown is a graver risk. U.S. GDP fell nearly 5 percent in the first quarter, the government reported this morning, and a far-larger contraction in the second quarter is expected.
On the other side are health care experts and others who maintain that strict measures taken to halt the spread of the coronavirus are necessary to prevent a soaring death toll due to a high infection rate and asymptomatic transmission. They also believe uncontrolled spread of COVID-19 would cause even more economic damage than the current lockdown and planned phased reopening.
As of April 28, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported New York had 287,607 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 21,883 deaths. In Monroe County, the official count was 1,342 confirmed cases and 112 deaths.
In today’s Up for Debate, the Rochester Beacon presents two views on the governmental response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the question of how quickly the lockdown should be lifted.
By Jim Ryan Jr.
To truly beat the coronavirus, replace government mandates with individual initiative, judgment and responsibility. Let Americans take back control of their lives.
By Kent Gardner
We still don’t know enough to determine if the policy response to the coronavirus has been too restrictive—or not restrictive enough.
Mr. Ryan uses the seasonal flu deaths from 2 years ago as a benchmark. The flu season generally runs from October to March but some years extends even to May. Currently the USA has some 66,000 deaths in a much shorter time period (1.5 months) than the flu season Mr. Ryan cites (6 months). Even with the lockdown measures in place deaths have exceeded that particular flu season.
We know enough now to reopen with sensible precautions; this virus is wimpy for healthy young adults and children.
The vulnerable should be additionally protected, such as with high dose vitamin D supplementation of populations that are usually low in vit D, e.g. aged, dark skinned minorities, and the obese. Vit D has long been known to enhance resistance to viral respiratory infections, plus it modulates the ACE2 receptor that the SARS-CoV2 uses to gain entry to our cells and so has additional benefit in COVID-19.
It seems this Debate is a mild disagreement with both sides agreeing that we need to open up the economy & ‘non-essential’ healthcare services but disagreeing on when that should happen. I appreciated the perspective that, given the comparable severity to a bad flu season, maybe we should move to a more targeted approach; that is, isolate the high risk rather than the entire population. It seems that Sweden followed this approach and is seeing no worse outcomes than other countries. Also, lets not forget the indirect, secondary impacts of a mass lock down: There’s been increases in abuse, depression, and those postponed surgeries & preventive visits will likely result in sicker cases. I’ve also heard that because older people are not moving as much they’re increasing their risk of falls not to mention the huge impact on the economy. We cannot commit suicide over a fear of death. On the other hand, it would be really helpful to know more about how we can control the spread of the disease. My perception too is that our community is more cooperative in that we all want a ‘greater good’ and are willing to sacrifice when it makes sense.
As anxious as everyone is to get our lives back to normal, their is ample evidence that isolation in place and social distancing work. New cases are in the decline and that is ONLY the result of these to personal initiatives.
To relax them at this time is a fools errand and will result in a rapid increase of new COVID-19 cases, in my opinion, as evidenced by the lockdowns in States with lower populations that didn’t lockdown sooner. Once the virus is present in the population, the spread will occur.
I agree with Mr. Ryan. Let’s get back to work! Before any employees touch anything in our kitchen they must wash their hands, also before using printers and plotters. We also wipe down the door knobs after each visitor’s entrance and exit. We’re not going overboard and will never visit a nursing home or other problem areas. Anyone who bought stock in Amazon years ago doesn’t have to worry about going back to work ever!
As a physician who has become familiar with the science behind the Coronavirus, I am very wary of opening too soon without considering demographics of vulnerability of older age groups, those with impaired immunity (either from disease or medications), and those whose living conditions are not amenable to social distancing. I am also concerned that there will be those people who jump right back to the “old normal” as well as a very real possibility of a second wave in the late Fall and Winter. We must also be aware that absence of symptoms does not assure that one is free of infectivity as well as the concept of “viral shedding” where those who have recuperated continue to shed the virus up to as much as a month. I urge caution and vigilance. Testing and contact tracing will be key. We’re not even sure if the presence of neutralizing antibodies will have effectiveness or longevity. So much is not known. We have to be very innovative with the economy and consider new ways of doing old things.