Republican Governors Taking Big Gamble With Plans to Reopen States

Republican Governors Taking Big Gamble With Plans to Reopen States

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Janet Ybarra
Democrat
Former Washington Journalist
Contributor on The Bipartisan Press

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We’re about to see that, when it comes to loosening the extreme lockdown conditions gripping the United States as a result of the novel coronavirus outbreak, that there’s a right way to do things and a wrong way.

On the one hand, we have careful, deliberative governors–of both political parties–who, before they even start planning to reopen their states want to ensure that their decisions based on sound data and science.

These governors, who include Democrat Andrew Cuomo of New York and Republican Larry Hogan of Maryland, are working hard to establish robust testing infrastructures in their respective states, in order to know whether it’s even safe yet to reopen.

And, in Hogan’s case, it includes staring down a clutch of protesters who demanded he reopen the state immediately–and, appropriately resisting.

“Our case numbers are still growing each day and the number of deaths is continuing to increase,” he said, adding, “I want to get our economy going as quickly as possible but we’re also going to have to do that in a safe manner.”

Then, on the other hand, you have a cohort of Republican governors, who are mostly solid backers of Donald Trump, and since Trump has for weeks now been eager to reopen the country these governors–in Florida, Georgia, Tennessee and Texas–are eager to do Trump’s bidding.

Let’s take Florida as an example.

DeSantis on Monday announced a “Re-Open Florida Task Force,” its members including executives at Walt Disney World and Universal Studios — two of the state’s largest employers — as well as other corporate executives and elected leaders.

No physicians, scientists or public health professionals mentioned among them.

Gov Ron DeSantis obviously has already decided to reopen, and now he’s just trying to fit the justification to allow that to happen.

DeSantis spoke about performing rapid coronavirus tests on guests as they check into hotels. 

That’s great lip service to testing as part of reopening the state. But that’s all it is–lip service, given that the state was provided with only an additional 100,000 tests.

That’s not nearly adequate for a state of more than 21 million residents, nevermind all of the visitors that DeSantis envisions coming to Florida.

There have been 27,059 positive cases of coronavirus in the state, according to the Florida Department of Health, 4,000 hospitalizations due to the virus and more than 800 deaths.

Mark Wilson, of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, said the task force recommendations will have an impact beyond Florida.

“The whole world is watching us,” Wilson said. “They’re looking for your recommendations, and my hope is that other states and other nations will look to . . . Florida’s restart as not only a national model, but as a global model.”

Wilson’s right, but not necessarily for the task force recommendations. Rather, the world will be watching for the tragic consequences as hospitalizations and deaths spike in the face of DeSantis’ meager testing.

We, of course, all hope and pray that the worst won’t happen, but when the plans to reopen aren’t based on a realistically solid testing plan.

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