Gov. Eric Holcomb likes to say, “We’re all in this together” to fight the war against the coronavirus in Indiana. It sounds soothing, but in fact a more apt framing of his policies would be: “You’re on your own.”
Of seven surrounding states with similar or better metrics than Indiana, six kept their stay at home orders in place, and the one exception, Kentucky, issued stronger requirements than Indiana. The governor is lifting the one proven weapon against the coronavirus. Based on what data? The tangential “guiding principles” (or straw men) of availability of hospital beds, ventilators, testing and tracing?
This leaves Hoosiers with a false sense of security and hope, and in retreat from the fight against the coronavirus. Hope, as many have said, is not a strategy.
In our own back yard at Notre Dame, real experts on the data stated:
“Our results indicate that control measures that are in place right now may need to be maintained at a fairly high level until the summer if we want to lower transmission,” said Alex Perkins, a biology professor and infectious disease expert. “At that point, we may be able to dial back those protective measures somewhat, but we will not be able to relax them completely until we have a vaccine.”
Our leader ignores this data-driven advice and, absurdly, even makes masks and facial coverings optional.
We now have a five-stage tangled web of differing and undefined “capacities” that are all voluntary and admittedly unenforceable and will quickly be seen as entirely optional. It is sadly telling that the governor’s last words at his news conference were, “Better safe than sorry.” We are likely not safe and will be sorry.
Citizens who fear for their lives at a workplace that now opens up with no one wearing masks or practicing social distancing, and who choose to resign instead of risk their lives: Beware! The governor and the director of unemployment compensation have already stated that “generalized fear” of the coronavirus will not get you unemployment compensation. What evidence of danger is there during a raging pandemic other than “generalized fear”?
But not in Indiana, where we will ignore and deny the most tangible evidence and instead force Hoosiers back to work. They must now choose between their livelihood and their lives.
With a galling sense of abdication, the governor is saying, “We hope for the best for them,” while Hoosiers are given a false choice, this daily calculation of, “Heads I win, tails you lose,” all in the name of getting Indiana “back on track.” If that leads to a surge in cases, the suffering and deaths from the disease will be in vain.
Holcomb cravenly channeled Abraham Lincoln when he invoked the Gettysburg Address to support lifting the stay-at-home order to the retreat of, “Let’s hope and pray but not fight.” The point of the Gettysburg Address was that the Union army would fight on, so the gruesome deaths at Gettysburg would not be in vain. The point by Holcomb was lost in the labyrinth of stages that amounted to a retreat of, “Let’s hope this all works out.”•