Claiming to be alarmed by the discovery that humans continue to be infected by a highly infectious virus despite nine months of masks, handwashing, social distancing, and self-imposed economic recession, the governors of California, Oregon, and Washington have ordered … more of the same.
Over the weekend, all three ordered restaurants and bars to eliminate indoor service and permit outdoor service only to parties of five or six. Indoor gyms and fitness centers, many of which had only recently started re-opening after the first round of devastating COVID-19 restrictions in March, must also shut down.
Movie theaters, bowling alleys, and museums will likewise be closed, and indoor gatherings — including home Thanksgiving celebrations — can only include members of one household unless participants have quarantined and tested negative.
“You’re not going to expect state troopers coming to your door if you have a big Thanksgiving dinner,” Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said. “We do hope people who want to abide by the law will abide by the law.”
And if they don’t? Inslee didn’t elaborate.
Oregon’s Kate Brown, however, was more brazen, classifying violations of her edict as a Class C misdemeanor.
“In terms of individuals, I’m not asking you,” she said. “I’m ordering you.”
Brown said she’s directing Oregon State Police to work with local law enforcement on potentially ticketing — or even arresting — violators.
In California, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s so-called “emergency brake” put almost the entire state back under the strictest possible set of rules, halting indoor worship services and forcing most indoor businesses to close or operate at a fraction of their capacity.
Not coincidentally, the order will also keep most schools closed, including the nation’s second-largest school district in Los Angeles.
On Friday, Newsom, Brown, and Inslee acted in concert to issue a travel advisory, urging their residents to avoid non-essential travel and to quarantine for two weeks after arriving on the West Coast from another state or country.
The governors cited recent numbers from state health officials suggesting a spike in the number of cases reported.
These numbers, however, very rarely concede that people are being tested far more frequently than before, which would obviously result in more cases being reported, but not necessarily more actual cases.
They’re also a little vague on the question of why we should continue taking steps that, by their own admission, don’t seem to work.
The governors’ actions fly in the face of reports from the Centers for Disease Control indicating that while the COVID infection rate may (or may not) be rising, the virus is far less deadly. In fact, the survival rate, even for the most elderly and vulnerable sufferers, currently stands at around 95 percent, with other age groups over 99 percent.
It also seems suspicious to reimpose such draconian precautions amid speculation that the first 20 million doses of a vaccine against the disease will be available in just a few weeks.
Most galling of all, however, is the fact that, while hundreds of thousands of independent businesses are being ordered to comply with strict regulations or shut down altogether, government employees still have jobs to go to.
The decisions about whose businesses live and whose die are being made by people who never seem to miss a paycheck — and whose unions have traditionally donated very generously whenever Newsom, Brown, and Inslee have run for office.
The governors and thousands of bureaucrats responsible for imposing and enforcing COVID restrictions talk a good game about everyone sharing the pain, but they’re not the ones facing the prospect of losing their livelihoods.
There’s a huge difference between having to work at home and not having a job at all.
Any governor arrogant enough to think he or she has the power to make life-and-death decisions for the residents of their state without having the decency to ask their elected state legislatures to approve their actions should be recalled immediately.
Aaron Withe is the national director of the Freedom Foundation, a national non-profit organization that has filed COVID lockdown-related lawsuits in California, Oregon, and Washington.