A few of the articles I read this morning over coffee with short comments on each.
Protests against lockdowns and stay-at-home orders begin. Are these starting organically or driven by right-wing organizations?
Back in January when SARS-COVID-2 began to spread from China, a good friend of mine told me government would eventually have to shut down businesses and limit large gatherings of people in order to limit the contagion and protect the health care system. I responded that even if necessary, lockdowns like this would generate protest and backlash in the US if they lasted more than a week or two. Those protests have started.
This week a few dozen people gathered at Capitol Square in Richmond to demand an end to stay-at-home orders in Virginia by 1 May.
Both Capitol and Virginia State Police were on hand and had to remind the protesters to maintain social distancing guidelines since they said the groups encouraged participants to hug and share food during the event.
“The reason why I’m not wearing a mask is that I’m not going to have someone tell me I have to,” said protester Benjamin Wright, who lives in Richmond.
This kind of right-wing virtue signaling will spread across the US and could seriously limit the ability of US institutions to deal with this crisis. And make no mistake: it’s driven by right-wing organizations like the Proud Boys and part of Trump’s reelection campaign.
It can also lead to this kind of tragic outcome when people believe what they hear on propaganda networks instead of members of their own family.
In Pursuit of PPE
This story about an executive for a Massachusetts hospital system buying personal protective equipment for his staff demonstrates both the failure of markets to allocate resources to filling an urgent need and the failure of government to protect public health. Shortages will generate higher prices, but government should work to improve the situation by taking action to increase production, not throw up road blocks and threaten to redirect shipments on a whim.
Awarding high-dollar contracts for the purchase of masks from bankrupt firms with no staff that have never made a mask does not seem like the best way out of the PPE shortage mess.
The New England Journal of Medicine is a good general resource on SARS-COVID-2, by the way.
Just so this isn’t All Coronavirus All the Time…
As the Bernie Sanders campaign ended and the Democratic Party continued coalescing support around Biden’s candidacy, I got into it a bit with some Our Revolution folks on Twitter. I tried to make the point that for now policy has to take a back seat to ending the Trump disaster (not to mention what looks like nascent fascism) with little success. But I also pointed out that politicians like Sanders and Warren, supported by activist groups like the Indivisibles and Resistance organizations, have moved American politics to the left. So the reason Sanders’ Our Revolution movement failed to achieve electoral success has more to do with the failure of their “unite the working class” strategy than with refusal by Democratic Party elites to back progressive policies. More to come on this in the coming days.