While announcing a cumbersome set of guidelines for schools to reopen in August, Gov. Roy Cooper pointedly made no promises about whether he will, in fact, allow North Carolina’s schools to open at all. Citing a recent rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations, Cooper even raised doubts about the fate of his phased-reopening plan, already molasses-slow by regional standards.

To borrow a phrase: Let me be clear. Our schools will reopen this fall. And Cooper should not attempt a second shutdown. North Carolinians won’t allow it.

Back in March, as the coronavirus crisis was unfolding, most people were willing to stay at home, sometimes at significant cost in incomes and freedom, as a temporary measure. Indeed, GPS-based mobility data show that North Carolinians began doing so in mid-March — before Cooper issued his stay-at-home order.

They believed the governor when he said the goal was to “flatten the curve,” to ensure that COVID-19 hospitalizations did not overwhelm the health care system as in Southern Europe or New York City. By mid-April, visits to North Carolina’s business establishments had fallen by an average of 50 percent below the pre-COVID baseline. For sectors such as hospitality and leisure, the stay-at-home effect was far larger.

Then things changed. For North Carolinians, sheltering at home temporarily meant at most a few weeks. They started moving around more. Some returned to their workplaces. Again, people were voting with their feet before Cooper initiated his Phase 1 in early May. Naturally, as more businesses could legally reopen, the trend intensified. By May 20, foot traffic was at 30 percent below normal. It is now 20 percent below normal and will likely continue to improve.

If Cooper attempts to halt or reverse this process, he’s in for a rude awakening. North Carolinians aren’t going to put up with it a second time.

They watched as the original flatten-the-curve rationale morphed into a claim that North Carolinians should stay at home until it is “safe,” which most properly view as a preposterous standard.

They watched as Cooper issued edicts allowing people to go to shopping malls on Sundays but not to churches.

They watched a federal judge strike down Cooper’s policy as unconstitutional.

They watched as other states began to reopen, political activists and national media figures predicted public-health catastrophe, and the predictions turned out to be wildly off the mark. They watched as neighboring states such as South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia and even Virginia adopted broader and faster reopening plans, again with no catastrophic upswing in adverse health outcomes.

They watched as the “distance learning” provided to North Carolina schoolchildren this spring proved to be largely ineffectual. They also watched as the coronavirus pandemic left children virtually unscathed, and the empirical evidence showed children are not a significant source of infection to others.

They watched as Cooper and his legislative allies scolded hundreds of North Carolinians for gathering to protest the governor’s inconsistent and unreasonable policies. Then they watched as Cooper and his legislative allies celebrated and even joined the ranks of thousands of North Carolinians gathering to protest the killing of George Floyd.

They watched progressives try desperately to draw a distinction between the two events by citing the use of masks. Then North Carolinians remembered that just weeks earlier, public-health experts had said cloth masks reduced transmission risk only somewhat, since viruses are microscopic. North Carolinians watched the crowds scream and chant for hours on end, for days on end.

They watched many of the same “public-health experts” beclown themselves by issuing a political statement in support of mass gatherings as long as they, the experts, agreed with the political cause in question. And they watched as Cooper walked in solidarity past a protesting crowd, his mask dangling uselessly from one ear, surrounded by unmasked aides.

The governor has arrogated to himself the unilateral authority to shut down indefinitely large swaths of economic and social life. He’s already overstepped his legitimate powers. I truly hope he doesn’t try it, again.

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John Hood (@JohnHoodNC) is chairman of the John Locke Foundation and appears on “NC SPIN.”

(2) comments

Hubris

Part 2 - because long posts are apparently "spam"

They watched as neighboring states such as South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia and even Virginia adopted broader and faster reopening plans, with Florida showing a +144% increase in cases, +133% in South Carolina, and Tennessee at a +97% increase in cases. Of course Georgia only saw a 31% increase, so it's all good there. (Data as of 11:59 p.m. ET, June 15).

And our own beloved North Carolina, just a few records numbers of new hospitalizations and deaths, with only a 56% increase in cases over the last two weeks.

But things are so rosy, so positive, and we so have this so far in the rear-view mirror, that public health experts like Mr. Hood here are basically giving us the green light to go back to normal. I mean he's right - "safe" is a "preposterous standard," especially next to his stock portfolio and being able to get a steak and beer at his favorite restaurant. So never mind the record deaths in North Carolina. Never mind the explosions of cases in the South. Get back out there darn you. It's all a liberal plot anyway...

Hubris

Why does the Democrat continue to publish this guy's idiocy? Here, let me fix some of it:

With regard to the North Carolinians who stayed home to flatten the curve:

They watched as they waited inside hoping to slow the progression of the virus so the federal government could develop a set of science based guidelines and a plan for dealing with the pandemic. Instead they got a three ring circus of incompetence, ineptitude, and ignorance. I mean, hydroxychloroquine, seriously?

They watched as they waited inside hoping to slow the progression of the virus so the federal government could work with manufactures and rebuild the supply of PPE. Instead they got FEMA plans calling for "PPE reuse through summer" and no accounting for where the reserve PPE went in the first place. Indeed, if there's an other peak, we're screwed.

They watched as they waited inside hoping to slow the progression of the virus so the federal government could work out plans to help small businesses stay afloat during the pandemic. Instead they got nearly half a trillion dollars given out with zero accountability. Countless small businesses got nothing, and there's no public record whatsoever of where the money went. None. Nor are there any plans to provide it. Almost half a trillion dollars...

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