Editor’s note: This commentary is by Brian Allen, of Arlington. He is an art historian and the art critic for National Review.
When I voted for Phil Scott twice, I expected him to be the jobs governor and the small business governor, not the biggest killer of jobs and small business in the history of Vermont. Having tossed nearly 90,000 people out of work through poor judgment, he continues to peddle fear, not facts. He also has no endgame.
“States right on our borders and just a few hours away are still confronting massive outbreaks and it only takes one spark, or one unhelpful decision, to reignite this fire,” Scott said last week in a statement. What fire? Vermont has never had more than 35 COVID-19 hospitalizations at any one time. There are nearly 900 hospital beds in Vermont and eight current COVID-19 hospitalizations. About half of the state’s 831 confirmed infections are in Burlington and a handful of neighboring towns.
“We all need … to preserve our hard-earned gains,” Scott said. What he means is “we have to go further out on this crazy limb.”
Governor Scott’s models on deaths, hospitalizations, ventilators and ICU needs have been wrong by many multiples, from the beginning. He got bad advice and took it, demolishing the economy. His experts are mostly from academia and aren’t practical people. He’s ignored a bounty of scientific and medical opinion that conflicts with theirs.
Why are studies from Stanford and Oxford showing extreme lockdowns are not useful wrong? What about emergency room doctors and working infectious disease doctors who say you’re on the wrong track? Why are they wrong?
A far less reckless and extreme approach would have produced the same results. Why do I say this? I look at the dozen states that didn’t gut their economies, employment base and tax base, and they’ve done as well as Vermont.
What is his endgame? Eradicate COVID-19? That won’t happen, in part because we can’t keep the economy comatose. An economic pulse happens when people do business, together, usually in person. Maybe the governor’s rich friends can Zoom all day but most workers can’t.
Will he acknowledge that almost all COVID-19 infections cause no ill effects? In view of this, he needs to justify his one-size-fits-all scheme. Why is Arlington, with no COVID-19 cases, treated the same as Burlington and its suburbs, with hundreds?
Governor Scott needs to level with people rather than frighten them or mislead them into thinking COVID-19 will disappear. It’s with us. It’s a new fact of life. There may be a vaccine, though there is no vaccine for any coronavirus. The common cold is a type of coronavirus.
Governor Scott needs to show leadership in telling people this truth.
Covid-19 presents almost no risk to healthy young people. The governor needs to say that over and over. They need to get back to a normal life and not a life of unwarranted, ginned-up fear. The schools should reopen since there is no danger to children. Where is his data showing risk to kids?
Workers under 60 with no health problems should return to work, too. If they have health problems, we need to accommodate them, but we can’t keep healthy adults from their livelihoods. That’s an abuse of power.
We know far more now than we knew six weeks ago. Governor Scott needs to communicate that this isn’t the bubonic plague, for instance. He needs to explain the consequences and costs of his extreme steps. He did the public a grave injustice by not itemizing these when he dragged us on this most unexcellent adventure.
The governor needs to explain why a small bakery or restaurant, observing good hygiene standards, can’t open. Aside from “we must be afraid,” what’s the specific health risk, documented by data? Are there any cases of COVID-19 infection coming from a restaurant visit?
What’s the data on opioid abuse increases, calls to the police for child and spousal abuse, and suicide in the last six weeks? What’s the projected budget deficit for next year?
Many multiples more than 50 Vermonters will die or become very ill because of deferred medical care since Governor Scott irresponsibly closed hospitals and doctor’s offices to anything but COVID-19 illness. Cancer screenings, heart health, cancer treatments, children’s check-ups, and vaccinations weren’t happening for almost two months.
The governor needs to encourage people to get this care rather than talk about disaster around the corner.
COVID-19 is a New York metropolitan area problem, with 50% of the country’s deaths. Over 60% of COVID-19 deaths in Massachusetts are nursing home and elderly congregate housing residents. Vermont isn’t New York City or Boston. The demographics, hygiene, health care and living conditions are entirely different. Of course, New York is the worst run city in the country.
The governor needs to explain all of this rather than scare people into thinking the scenes we see on TV unfolding in Queens are remotely possible here. It’s possible I’ll get hit by a meteorite tomorrow, but I can’t plan my life around that possibility.
“They’re nearby” is another of Governor Scott’s scare tactics. So are New Hampshire, Maine, and northern Berkshire and Franklin Counties in Massachusetts, and a dozen rural New York counties, with little COVID-19 incidence.
And I’d like to know this, Governor Scott: What is your plan to clean up the mess you and your team have created?