Why Follow COVID-19 Guidelines At All?
Inconsistent messages from public health officials and blatant hypocrisy from our politicians lead to increasing cynicism among the general public.
There are countless Americans who understand how severe the COVID-19 pandemic is. Many of us have been deferential to our political leaders and other authorities. We've attempted to follow the constantly shifting instructions and sought to "believe the science." I'm finding out it's more about believing "the political" science.
We've watched businesses go bankrupt, saw people try and maintain social distance despite untold social and psychological costs, and have done the right thing by continuing to wear masks. Parents like me have done all we could by looking for work as savings run dry while simultaneously keeping our children's education on track through remote learning. I often wonder why so many countries have managed to keep schools open while we can't keep our’s functioning.
When we see tens of thousands of people protesting, rioting, and partying in the streets of cities all across America, without a hint of "social distancing," it's easy to become cynical. At the same time, good people are being barred from attending church services, funerals, birthdays, or weddings.
People are skeptical when we watch New York Governor Andrew Cuomo congratulate himself for his leadership and launch a promotional book tour on top of the graves of the more than 33,000 New Yorkers who died on his watch. More than 6,400 of them were long-term care facility residents who died from COVID-19 because of his March 25 directive that forced New York hospitals to release recovering coronavirus patients into nursing homes during the height of the pandemic. Cuomo scored the trifecta; he destroyed small businesses with endless shutdowns, he killed grandma and grandpa, and now he's making a fortune writing a book about it.
We now have increasing cases across America, along with hospitalizations and deaths. Some are calling for a return to stricter lockdowns.
Haven't we seen this before? I have.
Cynicism is back and deepening. We've heard talk of a "very dark winter," as if we are in Game Of Thrones. Thanksgiving is canceled, and folks are talking about the need to decrease our social circles. Are we now to avoid all social contact outside immediate family members? Maybe we should make this regular activity:
Governor Mike DeWine of Ohio told his state's residents, "Wear a mask so that your friends, neighbors, and family members might live." He is introducing new punitive measures where stores would be closed for 24 hours if a team of inspectors found that workers or customers at any retailer ignored his mask rule two times. He has also banned "dancing and games at social gatherings" and, "said participants in banquets, weddings, and funeral receptions could no longer congregate."
The governor of Wisconsin joined in for more Debbie Downer-ism: "It's not safe to have others over—it's just not safe . . . So please, cancel the happy hours, dinner parties, sleepovers, and play dates at your home."
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot joined in for some authoritarian fun. She issued a new stay-at-home "advisory." She said, "You must cancel normal Thanksgiving plans, particularly if they include guests that do not live in your immediate household. At least she is giving an ending date. Her new measures will take effect on Monday at 6 am and last for at least 30 days.
In New York, Governor Cuomo has limited private gatherings to fewer than ten people and mandated that gyms, bars, and restaurants close by 10:00 pm. Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island each have enacted similar restrictions on private gatherings. In Massachusetts, the limit on the number of people allowed to gather inside private residences was lowered earlier this month from 25 to 10. The limit on outdoor gatherings is 25 people.
In Connecticut, the indoor limit is also ten people. Rhode Island lowered its limit on both indoor and outdoor gatherings at private homes from 15 to 10. The Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo's ordered her State Police to "triple" their presence and to break up private parties.
How is any of this to be enforced?
Suppose somebody from the health department came up to my apartment and knocked on the door and said. "I want to see how many people are in there!" I would say, "Where is your search warrant?"
That would be the end. There is nothing more to say.
For all of Trump's talk being authoritarian, it's Democrats like Cuomo and Gina Raimondo who are doing the things liberals supposedly despise.
It's advisable, practical, and reasonable to follow specific guidelines to spend another "two weeks to stop the spread" again and again, but how much control do we want the government to have over the inside of one's home? That's a bridge too far.
There was truth to Joe Biden's statement when he said, "It's time to end the politicization of basic, responsible public health steps like mask-wearing and social distancing." How will it ever be de-politicized after months of inconsistent messages from public health officials and blatant hypocrisy from our political leaders? Governors and mayors are expecting sacrifices from a public who has no faith in government.
The public's trust has eroded because we have seen politicians consistently saying one thing and do another. Why should we follow any of the rules? If our leaders don’t neither should we.
Governor Gavin Newsom attended a birthday party at French Laundry in Yountville in Napa County on Nov. 6th. The dinner was for one of Newsom's political advisers and included families from several different households. The party reportedly had 12 or more people from different households. Gov. Gavin Newsom said Friday he should not have attended. Why? It's because it occurred during California's coronavirus surge— just as the governor is trying to discourage households from gathering for the holidays.
Nanci Pelosi was a COVID violator recently on her trip to the salon. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser offered residents a pitch-perfect example of political hypocrisy last week when she and many of her staff traveled to Delaware to celebrate Joe Biden's win at a crowded campaign party. Bowser deemed the partying "essential travel" and, thus, "exempt" from the quarantine order. Remember when no one could come from a COVID hotspot like California without quarantining for 14 days? Well, the rules applied to everyone, except those attending some silly awards show.
Portland, D.C., and several other cities across the country have been centers of weekly demonstrations and protests by people who are not consistent in their mask-wearing. They may have been "mostly masked" but have completely ignored rules for social distancing.
In June, over 100 public health officials angrily denounced anyone questioning lockdown restrictions by releasing a letter claiming that "white supremacy is a lethal public health issue that predates and contributes to COVID-19," and protests against it were acceptable. "Infectious disease experts must be clear and consistent in prioritizing an anti-racist message," they claimed.
The message we received was clear. Public health experts and politicians are hypocrites.
Most Americans want to do the right thing when it comes to making sacrifices for the sake of public health. We should also be continually questioning authority. We should be stubbornly defending our freedoms. It is long past time we consider the precedent we're setting in 2020. Are we so willing to give up our liberties so quickly over and over again? Did we not learn our lessons from the PATRIOT ACT?
We must demand political leaders on both sides of the aisle to be consistent in their messaging about the pandemic and their enforcement of whatever guidance is written. More importantly, we must hold them accountable for their behavior. The increasing number of cynics will tune out unless we see more honesty and integrity from our public officials.
Clayton Craddock is an independent thinker, father of two beautiful children in New York City. He is the drummer of the hit broadway musical Ain't Too Proud. He earned a Bachelor of Business Administration from Howard University's School of Business and is a 28 year veteran of the fast-paced New York City music scene. He has played drums in several hit broadway and off-broadway musicals, including "Tick, tick…BOOM!, Altar Boyz, Memphis The Musical, and Lady Day At Emerson's Bar and Grill. Also, Clayton has worked on: Footloose, Motown, The Color Purple, Rent, Little Shop of Horrors, Spongebob Squarepants The Musical, Evita, Cats, and Avenue Q.
In Madison, WI "mass gatherings" such as weddings and funerals, are limited to 10 indoor and 25 outdoor. My daughter's July 25th wedding was rescheduled to October 3rd and had guests reduced from 150 to 12 (parents and siblings only). The 2nd venue (the first won't host at least until mid 2021) had a green house section which had a glass ceiling that could be opened to make it "outdoor". They originally modified to 30 to include the wedding party and their significant others but down to 12 because we were nervous about what would happen if it rained and we had to close the roof and ask people to leave. As it was, it DID rain that day and we were nervous that 2 would be asked to leave but the venue was wonderful and the ceremony went on with 12 (and their dog :) )...Such is life in the age of COVID-19.