It should come as no surprise that some, arguably all, politicians, from time to time, tell a wee lie. Sometimes, of course, they are real porky pies, and not wee at all. Outright lying is one thing, unacceptable under almost any circumstances other than life or death. The current US President is an example of either bald-faced lying, or just extreme stupidity (frankly it could be both).
But sometimes politicians make statements that they have to countermand at a later time under different conditions. George H.W. Bush became the poster child for this when he had to levy a new tax in 1992 after making a point of saying clearly and precisely in 1988 “Read my lips: no new taxes”
I fear that our current COVID-19 pandemic is making similar liars out of many leaders. This is new to everyone, there was no “Pandemics For Dummies” available, although there may be several once this is all said and done. Politicians, and their perpetual need for voter support, must balance things with scientific evidence (and even that is a bit sketchy).
Firstly it seems to me that the politicians and public health authorities decided to agree on a middle ground in their initial response: this took the form of flattening, or planking, the curve. Evidently, lock-downs, self-quarantining, and the like could be eased once the graph that illustrates the number of new daily cases leveled-off, stopped rising. Not once the curve disappeared, not once there were minimal new cases, but at the point where the number of new cases remained static. Even if that was 800 new cases daily! Apparently the “new reality” we will be living also has a new concept of the word good, as in “It will be good once the new cases stop increasing”.
No, it will be good once there are no new cases.
So government officials told us, about two months ago, to self-isolate, stay home, don’t mingle, masks don’t really help. They shut down all gatherings, religious, entertainment, even funerals, of which there have been many, were deemed verboten. They scared the bejayus out of us to the point that we all huddled under our beds and society just about shut down completely – with the obvious exception of essential services.
But now people are getting antsy, the economy has sputtered to a stop and the fear of it rusting and seizing looms large. So someone has decided that it’s time to “reopen” the economy. All of a sudden it will be okay to go to work and mingle. Buses and Metros will no doubt start to see more passengers. The nearly deserted streets will once again have pedestrians. It will be lovely, except for one thing.
To all appearances, we are no better off now than we were two months ago. The daily number of cases and deaths rises or stays around the same. We are still urged to practice physical distancing, maybe even don a mask. What happened? Could we have been doing this all along? The Quebec government claims to have the virus under control (with the very sad exception of senior’s residences where COVID-19 still runs rampant).
Flattening the curve isn’t controlling the virus. Eradicating COVID-19 will be a sign of control. Forest fires are often referred to as being under control or not. A forest fire that is under control is one that is not spreading, but the danger it poses is no less horrific. Folks with homes in the controlled fire certainly can’t return to them. Yet with COVID-19 allegedly under control, it seems prudent to restart commerce.
Did our leaders lie to us from the outset? I don’t think so. I think they were completely in the dark as to how to handle this hideous curse. Are we jumping the gun by reopening things, albeit slowly? I believe so.