Parsing Policy: Government’s Messaging About Covid Needs To Remain Strong
As the nation hit a grim milestone of 500,000 covid deaths, editorial pages focus on leadership mistakes and ways to avoid losing tens of thousands more Americans while getting the economy back on track.
The Washington Post:
We’ve Lost 500,000 Americans To Covid-19. We Can Prevent The Loss Of 500,000 More.
This is a moment of terrible tension. We are reaching an unspeakable milestone: the deaths of half a million Americans from covid-19. At the same time, there is unambiguous good news in the fight against the virus. It is possible, finally, to imagine a day when this devastating pandemic is brought to an end. The progress we’ve made toward defeating covid-19 should sharpen our grief, making it clear how many lives we might have saved had we been unified in our response. But even as we mourn, we cannot despair: There are people who will live if we keep up the hard, lonely work still before us. (Eugene Robinson, 2/22)
Los Angeles Times:
America Underestimated COVID And Now 500,000 Are Dead
In late March 2020, two of the federal government’s top health experts, Drs. Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx, delivered a stark assessment about the potential for catastrophic loss of life in the U.S. from COVID-19. Even with lockdowns and social distancing, they warned during a public briefing of the coronavirus task force, between 100,000 and 240,000 people may die before the virus waned or was vanquished.It was an eye-popping number at the time — there had been only about a dozen reported COVID deaths on U.S. soil, and the president had dismissed the coronavirus as nothing more serious than seasonal influenza. (2/22)
COVID And The 500,000 Deaths Milestone
People are anxious for certainty and this is the one thing we lack. We must be careful not to make unsubstantiated projections especially since we can’t predict exactly the impact the variants will have. False reassurances may undermine public compliance just when we need it the most. The one thing we do have control over is the vaccine. Only mass vaccination may bring us to herd immunity by summer. Only the vaccine will allow us to fully reopen our society. To beat the pandemic, do your part and get the shot. (Marc Siegel, 2/22)
Boris Johnson's Lockdown Roadmap To Summer Of Freedom Could Be Great
The word that best summarizes the U.K.’s 60-page Covid-19 response paper isn’t one usually associated with this prime minister. It is, as Johnson kept repeating Monday, “cautious.” He doesn’t have much margin for error. A government that has presided over one of the world’s highest per capita death rates bears a special responsibility to tread carefully and get it right. Johnson won’t want to waste his “vaccine dividend,” and who can blame him? While children will return to school on March 8, life for adults will ease more gradually, with up to six people or two households able to meet again — outdoors only — from the end of March. The reopening of retail, hairdressers, gyms and outdoor hospitality is anticipated from April 12. Indoor hospitality and larger gatherings for events will have to wait until at least May 17, with remaining restrictions removed only on June 21. (Therese Raphael, 2/23)
The Washington Post:
Biden Asked What Could Be Cut From His Covid Relief Package. Here Are Some Ideas.
As the House of Representatives moves toward passage of its version of President Biden’s $1.9 trillion covid relief package, concerns about the bill’s cost are growing — across the political spectrum. Republican opposition, characterized by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) as something “that will help unify our party,” was predictable. Less easy for Democrats to dismiss are expressions from such authorities as former International Monetary Fund chief economist Olivier Blanchard and former Obama administration economic adviser Lawrence H. Summers, who argue the plan is bigger than necessary to restore pre-pandemic growth, thus diverting resources needed for other goals — and, less certainly, risking inflation. (2/22)
Going Big On COVID-19 Relief Will Help Protect Financial Stability
President Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID relief package has triggered a vibrant debate among economists. Critics of the package argue that it fails to target the neediest recipients; that it is far larger than needed to boost the economy to full employment; and that it will accordingly re-ignite inflation and expand the federal debt to an egregious extent. Proponents point to the very unequal nature of the nation’s recovery; that after years of subdued inflation, there is no evidence that the expansion will produce anything more than a short-lived spike in prices; and that in light of the tremendous challenges posed by the ongoing pandemic, going big is less risky than going small. (Steven Kamin, 2/22)
Detroit Free Press:
Michigan High Court Should Undo Ruling On Whitmer's Emergency Powers
In October of last year, the Michigan Supreme Court struck down a 75-year-old law granting Michigan’s governor broad authority to cope with emergencies. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer had drawn on that authority to confront a crisis that has killed nearly 15,000 Michiganders so far.The case, In re Certified Questions, was no ordinary court decision. It rested on an antiquated legal theory that the Michigan Supreme Court had never before invoked to strike down a law. It applied federal case law that has no relevance to Michigan constitutional law. It divided the Court 4-to-3 on partisan line. It was a procedural train-wreck. And it will cast a pall over future laws that the Michigan Legislature may seek to pass to address urgent problems, including a future pandemic. (Nicholas Bagley, 2/22)
Gov. Ron DeSantis' Vaccines-For-Votes Political Strategy
The story is not just who’s getting vaccinated. It’s who’s not: Black and Hispanic Floridians, front-line health care workers, teachers and educational personnel. These Floridians have no shot at getting a shot. They don’t live in the right zip codes.This week, (Gov.) DeSantis’ pop-up politics took him to 34211 and 34202, two affluent zip codes that include the high-end gated communities of Lakewood Ranch in Manatee County, near Sarasota. A real estate developer friend of the governor helped to arrange the visit. Those getting the needle were 65 and over, white and wealthy. When a few people dared to question this elitist strategy, DeSantis struck back with the combativeness that has become his trademark. (Steve Bousquet, 2/29)
Restaurants Don’t Need Indoor Dining. They Need A Bailout.
When the pandemic hit, governors across the country were faced with a difficult decision: They could either shut down restaurants or risk more COVID-19 outbreaks in their states. Quickly, and responsibly, governors chose the latter, but, naturally, the restaurant industry suffered as a result. By April, over 80 percent of restaurant workers in Massachusetts were laid off or furloughed — a trend that could be seen in state after state — and the industry lost hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue nationwide. That’s a big reason why states started tinkering with their lockdowns, easing indoor dining restrictions in order to allow restaurants to draw customers back. (2/22)