TOM WARD - More work, less ‘hope’

TOM WARD - More work, less ‘hope’

Every restaurant owner should be despondent following the reading of a news item by WPRI-TV’s Ted Nesi Saturday. Last week, a reporter asked Gov. Gina Raimondo what hope she could offer a couple planning a small wedding. Said the governor, “If you could have a 50-, 70-, 80-person wedding, then maybe sometime later this year,” she replied – before abruptly adding, “Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott (the state’s health director) is saying, no way.”

No way? By the fall? Perhaps it’s time to push back. Shutting down the economy – putting many of us at the mercy of questionable management by bureaucrats for several more months – is unacceptable. We were offered a glimmer of hope by northeast governors Monday. Now we want to see a plan.

We aren’t children. We understand there is a problem, and we are taking steps, in our own lives and families, to deal with it. We wash our hands, we sanitize, we wear masks in the market now. We “social distance.” And now, we are forced to stay away from loved ones who live in assisted living centers and nursing homes. No visits, no family care packages. If they die, they die alone and without family members to hold their hands. Let me be among the first to say: No, this isn’t worth it.

It’s past time to create a road map for opening. Yes, we know it will be gradual. We want government – both federal and state – to give us dates certain on when we can expect to get back to work. This has already been complicated by the new CARES Act, where lower-wage employees have been given $600 weekly bonuses on top of their unemployment checks. Now, many don’t want to work for 13 weeks. This is the kind of management you get from politicians. Businesses are always victimized by the unintended consequences of “Dr. Feelgood” legislation crafted by people who have never had to make a payroll.

Gov. Raimondo might think this can go on for months, based on the perfectionists surrounding her, but she is wrong. In the end, this shutdown keeps getting extended because she is confident she will be bailed out by the federal government, which will eventually pay all of the piled up bills at her door. And in the end, she will need the hated Donald Trump to continue to sign on to this non-stop spending.
A month ago, Trump, in his first real crisis, signed a bill passed by Congress that bloated the deficit by another $2 trillion. It was an emergency, and it was necessary. And there will likely be more.

But as Trump reverts back to his business instincts and tells overreaching governors, like our own, that the treasury is running dry and cannot print unlimited money ... that states have to stand on their own, and get on with huge public sector layoffs and big tax increases, Raimondo will balk.

This is a disaster already, and the state, in its singular focus on “flattening” (and thus, lengthening) the curve, is killing business and the private sector. Enough is enough!

• The Raimondo Administration has hired plenty of PR staff in the past few years to tell you its COVID-19 agenda on state websites.

• Lt. Governor Dan McKee’s efforts have focused on small business help. Visit rismallbusiness.org . There is even a “pay it forward” effort there.• Then there is the R.I. Center for Freedom & Prosperity, who have new suggestions to get the state back to work. Visit rifreedom.org for some great ideas.

Ward is publisher of The Valley Breeze

Comments

People demand action and politicians are eager to comply. This is despite the fact that government interference in the free economy always makes things worse.

Mr. Ward,

Your frustration is misdirected. COVID-19 dictates when the economy opens, when we can return to normal, NOT any government at any level.

Open to early and COVID-19 may exact more pain and death.

Frustration, emotions and boredom should not overrule medical and scientific knowledge.

What we've learned is that humankind is not omnipotent, billion dollar weapons systems are useless without crews, and America has outsourced it's well being to foreign bad actors.

I am shocked to see such a viewpoint expressed in this issue alongside many interviews describing the seriousness of this pandemic. Implying that the measures our governor has thankfully put into place to save lives are not worth it? Not worth it? Taking measures that slow the spread of the virus and prevent hospitals from being overrun? Recognizing a threat and putting in place safeguards to minimize the damage it can do? This is what you deem an unworthy cause of action?

We know what has happened in Italy. My daughter and her husband, both medical professionals, tell me what is happening in New York. Epidemiologists say time and again that minimizing all contact is the key to slowing the spread of this disease and avoiding overwhelming our healthcare system. The well being of our community rests on staying home and maintaining lockdown. Scientists and medical doctors agree that this is the best approach, the one that will save countless lives.

You posit that we are not children, then undercut yourself immediately by demonstrating an inability to understand the way this virus spreads and how deadly it is, not only to the most vulnerable members of our community but to every single one of us. To imply that it is somehow perfectionism to listen to the opinions of experts, men and women who have studied disease and can advise us best as to how to weather this pandemic, is misguided at best, and dishonest at worst. I am stunned that you describe in the same paragraph the consequences of flouting lockdown and utilize them as a reason to relax the guidelines set in place.

The "business instincts" of Donald Trump are to blame for much of the suffering we are currently undergoing. It is well documented that his sluggish reaction and unwillingness to take strong steps towards implementing testing, lockdowns and direct manufacturers towards the production of PPE and ventilators have exacerbated the crisis we find ourselves in. His belligerent insistence on reopening the economy in spite of rising death tolls and the continued flood of new cases is reckless and cruel. I am shocked and disappointed to see you advocating for such a callous and thoughtless course of action here.

Yes, Tom, I agree with your comments on "Feelgood" legislation. Family members and friends who have no need of $1,200.00 each are figuring out where to donate that money once received (thinking the RI Food Bank for example). If the government does not have a computer program that could pull out those in actual need, then they need to hire some competent software engineers. Families and individuals who have been laid off should collect their unemployment and the one time $1,200.00 each, once only. Then if their place of employment does not reopen in four months and they continue collecting due to no fault of their own, then perhaps an additional $1,200.00 bonus ... only to them ...should be extended. Perhaps this is a simplistic idea. However, I wonder how many families making more then $85,000 a year have a rainy day savings account rather then the newest and most expensive electronics. It never ceases to amaze me when pictures of poverty stricken Rhode Islanders appear in the paper, they are sporting some of the most expensive cell phones on the market. Lastly, where do the citizens of this wonderful country think this stimulus money comes from. Yes, someone in Washington, D.C. is working over time printing it as fast as they can. The value of the dollar will decrease; our children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and more, will be paying for this stimulus program far into the future.
Time to slowly open the country and put people back to work.

Trump "revert[ing] to his business instincts"? Lord, I hope not. The business instincts that led him to bankrupt a casino to the point that he liquidated the shell for four cents on the dollar? The US doesn't need those sorts of instincts.

If you research the background of some of our most successful and wealthy business people in this country, you will find a great majority of them have business failures in their history.
Even Warren Buffett whom I greatly admire.

What we do know at this time is we've been locked down for quite some time and have followed the "social distancing" arbitrary rules. I say arbitrary, for there is much disagreement about how the virus is transmitted, how long it lasts, how far it can be moved via a sneeze/cough, etc... We're told to stay 6 feet away from anyone, but why not 5,4, or 3 feet? And, we're told to not congregate with more than 5 people, but why not 4,3 or 2 people?

Also, we're told that certain businesses are "essential" such as marijuana stores and liquor stores. Really?

And, we're told to not congregate in our cars outside of churches, but it IS OK to go to WalMart, Home Depot, or Stop and Shop where there are hundreds of cars.

And, we have police officers informing citizens that their rights have been "suspended."

I don't know about you, but I won't live like a hermit indefinitely, so we need to have a plan to reopen everything and the sooner the better. If you want to stay in your home, do so, but leave me alone. Look at what's going on in Michigan and North Carolina. Folks are not going to wait until some unknown date in the future to start living their lives.

People should be willing to lay down their lives to prop up the economy? What a ghoulish sentiment.

Worse, this entire column demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of this pandemic. It would be foolish for the governor to attempt to come up with specific dates. The only thing determining the timeline is COVID-19, and the willingness of each person across the country to do their part in curbing it's spread. This petulant spiel about the need to rush people back to work illustrates nothing but a complete misunderstanding as to our present situation. Right now there's no vaccine and no treatment. Perhaps you wrote this earlier in the week, but this issue arrives as Rhode Island sees it's highest numbers of deaths (not to mention the hot spots developing across the country in the South and Midwest) How can you advocate for loosening the guidelines when we're still approaching the first peak of this disease, knowing there are likely secondary spikes still in our future?

I would suggest reading Dr. Fauci's interviews to gain some clarity on what our daily life will be looking like for the next year or so. As much as we might hope otherwise, a return to normalcy isn't going to be possible any time soon.

You say arbitrary rules, which is a misunderstanding. As the governor has pointed out in many of her briefings, what is known about this virus is rapidly evolving. I am troubled by your need to make light of the guidelines that have been put in place, and would urge you to view some of the research done on how airborne diseases are transmitted to better grasp the reasons behind the CDC's rulings.

I would also point out there is a fundamental difference between going to purchase groceries and other essentials (in stores that have been ordered to monitor and enforce social distancing) and congregating at churches and other social arenas. Staying home unless absolutely necessary is the only way to stop the spread of this highly contagious disease. The more people ignore that fact, the more time we'll all have to spend in quarantine waiting for the danger to pass.

As I mentioned in my initial response to Mr. Ward's column, there is no "the sooner the better." There is only the timeline set by COVID. Unfortunately, the selfishness and ignorance on display in Michigan and North Carolina will have devastating effects on those communities in a few weeks' time. I pray that Rhode Islanders have better sense than to attempt such damaging gatherings, and spare a moment to think of the people who will be harmed by the contagion. Perhaps you are an asymptomatic carrier, but what of every person you come into contact with? Are you willing to risk their lives in pursuit of your misconceptions about personal rights? We must all think of our neighbors and take personal responsibility to curtail the spread of this disease, no matter how long that takes.

The return to work guidelines need to be very explicit in the area of protecting employees rights before we can go back to work. What would you do if all of your staff comes back to work in your office, and one of them comes down with coronavirus? This question will be multiplied hundreds of thousands of time after we return to work.

First, your blind obedience to Dr. Fauci is wrong-headed and dangerous. Remember when he was downplaying the Chinese Flu? I do.

This is from a Jan. 21, 2020 interview: Well, you know, obviously, you need to take it seriously and do the kinds of things that the CDC and the Department of Homeland Security are doing. But this is not a major threat [emphasis added] for the people of the United States, and this is not something that the citizens of the United States right now should be worried about."

And, on March 26th the WHO tweeted: "If you do not have any respiratory symptoms, such as fever, cough, or runny nose, you do not need to wear a medical mask. When used alone, masks can give you a false feeling of protection and can even be a source of infection when not used correctly" And, Howard Zucker, NY State Health Commissioner states "here was "no clear evidence" that covering one's face in public would slow down the rate at which the disease spreads.

So far we have seen wildly contradictory statements from the "experts" and we have seen our basic human rights stripped in a manner of weeks. You may think that religious rights and our First Amendment rights are secondary to purchasing booze and pot, but I don't. And, I have taken pains to become familiar with many aspects of this particular issue as all of us have. If you want to stay home indefinitely, go for it, but the vast majority of folks will have a sunset on this "lockdown" as evidenced by folks in Michigan, North Carolina exercising their right to petition their government representatives. Not "leaders" but representatives.

Drberg correctly says "we must all think of our neighbors." Unfortunately, in this country over the last half-century, that has gone completely out of fashion. Selfishness has been sold as a virtue, and thinking of the common good has become a vice. You can see that in Veritas's comment: *You* can stay in your house, *I'm* going to go where I want when I want. Because doing one's own part to protect the more vulnerable is for weaklings, I guess.

Did you read my posts? Did you address any of the facts? If you are comfortable with an indefinite lockdown, that's your business. However, there are millions of folks who are working now and millions more who want to get back to work. Do you believe everything that the WHO and the CDC have been stating? Do you have ANY skepticism with all these "Executive Orders?" We were told to stay home for 14 days and we all did that, with minor exceptions, and are now being told to stay home for another 30 days. When is enough enough? When the governor says so? You can continue to do whatever a politician tells you is good for you, but I'll continue to think for myself.

Those who are pushing for opening businesses and cherry picking the experts comments about this virus need only look to the situation at Smithfield Meat in Sioux City. Last week they closed the plant for 3 days for cleaning due to evidence of workers testing positive. On Saturday (after they had closed) the number rose to over 100 people. Now, less than a week later and with the plant closed, that number is over 700. We are in uncharted water with this virus as it can be spread by people who are asymptomatic. That is not the case with previous viruses. The doctors and scientists are still learning about how this virus acts. And as they learn more, they have changed their recommendations. I will be eager to hear from the nay-sayers to social distancing if we go back to business as usual and the numbers of infected people spike.

Isn't it strange how those people in Michigan petitioning their representatives were all white, carrying guns and waving Confederate flags (Michigander heritage?) just days after Michigan published statistics showing that a preponderance of Covid-19 deaths were among the black population? I'm sure that's just a coincidence, just as I'm sure Betsy DeVos' funding had nothing to do with their sudden outpouring of civic activity.

Look up the political term "astroturfing."

You are misinterpreting the evolution of research. As what we know about this virus and how it spreads has evolved, so has the response to it. We see that evolution demonstrated in the quotes you have pulled. As more information about the workings and effect of the virus emerged, what the science and medical community advised changed in reaction. This is unfortunately a hallmark of all scientific development, and not the sinister workings of government overreach you seem determined to paint it as. It isn't wildly contradictory. It is simply the process of trying to hit a moving target under extreme conditions.

Frankly I do not believe you have taken the appropriate steps to educate yourself if you believe we can begin the process of lifting restrictions in the midst of rapid community spread. I personally do not believe my preferences (because your preferences and desires are what you are mistakenly defining as "rights") are more important than those of my neighbors. We are hardly being stymied in the way you insinuate. The First Amendment has no bearing upon this situation. And I celebrate Mass daily via livestream, where I am able to gather with the members of my church virtually and praise God. I pray for my loved ones, many of whom have health conditions that make them especially vulnerable to COVID and would be in grave danger from individuals like yourself who believe the measures taken to protect them should be secondary to our own whims. I understand that the discomfort of this moment will end all the faster if we are diligent about it now, and if something as small as minimizing my own time spent in public to trips to the grocery store, then so be it. It is a small thing we are called upon to do, but it has a clear positive effect.

I again urge you to take the time to listen to experts. I have found the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center a great help, and would direct you to it if you have some issue with Dr. Fauci that prevents you from taking him seriously. I would also recommend a wonderful podcast by the name of Epidemic hosted by Dr. Celine Gounder and Ronald Klain as well as the work of epidemiologist Larry Brilliant, who has spoken explicitly about what we will need to be seeing before it's safe to start considering relaxing the stay at home orders.

OuAA Guidelines lack specificity in at least three areas

Workplace Sanitation
Every workplace is different, and it is unrealistic to expect the employer to know what new Federal, State, and local sanitation requirements for mitigating coronavirus exposure (if they exist) will be required to ensure a safe workplace for returning employees.

Employer Protection from Lawsuits, and assuring employee confidence in a safe workplace.
Certification that a specific workplace sanitation requirements have been met is extremely important for several reasons. First, it provides the employer with a level of protection from lawsuits should a returning employee contract Covid 19 after he/she returns to work. I have a vision of thousands of personal injury lawyers rubbing their hands together in anticipation of this new area of almost unlimited litigation potential. A certification that a workplace has met specific sanitation requirements would also instill much more confidence to employees facing a return to a workplace. Also, is the employer responsible for providing some level of PPE? Is the employee responsible for doing some level of sanitation at and around his workstation on a daily basis? Is the employer responsible for providing sanitation chemicals and establishing a sanitation routine? Can an employee be fired for not doing daily workstation sanitation? I could go on about bathrooms, etc, etc.

Employee Rights
OuAA Guidelines do not appear to address employee rights after return to the workplace. The essential question is what happens if an employee contacts coronavirus? What is the employer to do? Should the employer shut down immediately at that location? This cannot be left to each individual employer to make a decision. Government must develop national rules that are in place to protect employer from litigation and employee from exposure to a potentially deadly workplace.

I have no idea how the government would go about managing a workplace covid sanitation certification program, but it seems to me that it is essential for not only re-opening businesses, but also schools, etc.

The governor needs to stop coddling Rhode Islanders & making us soft. Time to show this virus who's boss!

For your next column maybe you can inspire us by listing all the ways you've been out there fighting the good fight during this pandemic. Because there ain't no way you're one of those guys who's just sitting around the house watching Fox News and writing uninformed & ridiculous opinion pieces!

Op-eds like this one, written by American conservatives, are all the same. Apparently the USA is the only country that has this mysterious thing called an "economy." Apparently no other country has an economy - not a real one anyway - and no other country has any lessons on how to survive the pandemic. Oh well, they're probably all "socialists" of some sort anyway, even Germany and Japan!

Mr Ward,
Thank you for stating what most of us are feeling.
"No, this isn't worth it".

so it's not worth it. wow. if it was just a matter of you going out and perhaps being infected and however it impacts you, fine well and good. Maybe you dont care. But when and if you then get sick, you put your family at risk. Maybe you dont care. Then you go to the ER...you put load on the staff there, you put the staff at risk, you put the other ER patients at risk. You take up healthcare resources. Again maybe you dont care. All those healthcare workers go home, their families are at risk. they are overwhelmed overworked and burnt out. Many of them will quit...why should they risk their lives and their families over a bunch of idiots who dont think it is worth it? But perhaps you dont care. Your family member in nursing homes that Me Ward wrings his hands over because he cant visit...gee there's nobody there to care for them. Or perhaps one of the exposed health care workers has now exposed your family member, and perhaps it impacts them more. But again you dont care, its not worth it.

You may disagree with how things are being handled, after all, whatever qualifies you to run the Valley Breeze certainly makes you more of an expert than the CDC, the Surgeon General, the State Dept of Health, the medical community...so much so that you need to resort to conspiracy theory personal attacks against the Governor.. and as the voice of the Breeze, it is irresponsible, ignorant, self serving, despicable, and frankly just flat out wrong.

Well, the attack (insult) dogs are out in force here. If one expresses a deviation from our political betters, we are "crisis deniers" or we somehow hate our neighbors, or are "Ignorant" or "Despicable". It didn't take long for our "tolerant" brethren to descend into the gutter. And, the cream of the crop was to liken Michigan citizens to racists! That is the last refuge of a scoundrel - sling the racist accusation in order to silence dissent. I guess all 10,000 folks who showed up in Lansing somehow did that to somehow engage in a conspiracy to kill folks, somehow.....

Maybe, just maybe the folks in Michigan protested their governor banning the sale of car seats, banned the use of motor boats (paddle boats ok), banned "non-essential" medical procedures, banned the buying of seeds, banned folks from congregating in groups larger than.... whatever number she wants, etc... However, she did not ban the selling of marijuana, alcohol and other carve outs for businesses she deemed worthy.

Interestingly enough, I took a walk yesterday and spoke to about 20 different neighbors. All of them agree with the points I have made, so we must all be ignorant, racist, or just plain evil, correct? My point is, if you want to be locked down for an indefinite time and want to live your life in fear, feel free to go ahead. Me not wearing some cloth mask is not going to endanger you, but may likely endanger folks with contact dermatitis, breathing disorders, and other maladies. Don't believe me? Believe the U of Minnesota's report, seen here: https://www.cidrap.umn.edu/news-perspective/2020/04/data-do-not-back-clo...

They're cultists who have been programmed to be angry at everything. They're constant victims.
So they can be tricked incredibly easily to go out and kill themselves and others. Because they were told they're the victims. They cannot grasp that the lockdown is for us to selflessly save each other's lives during a pandemic. Nope, the lockdown restricts their freedoms, so they believe any conspiracy that paints themselves as the victims.

So why were protesters in Lansing waving Confederate flags? Just celebrating Michigan's glorious Confederate heritage? 'Tis a mystery.

FYI: the Federal Republic of Germany has a constitution because Americans, French and British wrote it for them after WW2. Japan has a constitution because Americans wrote it for them after WW2. These are commonly known facts, or used to be.

Obviously, it would be helpful to look at countries that were hit by Covid-19 before the U.S., shut down earlier than the U.S. and have already begun to open up their businesses and schools again. What's working well so far, what's not working so well, what turns out to be dangerous, or not, that sort of thing. You know, FACTS that all Americans could learn from. As opposed to cultists just letting their emotions run wild depending upon their Dear Leader's cranky mood from day to day.

49% of those testing positive are under 50, yet virtually none have died. 51% are over 50 and represent 97% of the deaths.

Over 60 the ratio is 33% of all testing positive, 92% of the deaths. This may be why so many believe we need two strategies.

1. Absolutely protect the elderly and those with specific conditions that put them at great risk.
2. Get the economy open. The workforce is eager to work and anxious about their family's future.

Dept. of Health report 4/19/20

I had contemplated a longer response, but the question simply becomes: how many people are you willing to sacrifice so companies can turn a profit?

That last comment is the most rationale and practical to date. The disease ravages the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions. It does significantly impact the rest of the population. The number of people who have it or have had it is very under-reported - because you need symptoms to get a test and such a large number of the population who have been infected are asymptomatic.

Devise protections for the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions. Allow the rest of the world to return to normalcy as science continues to chase a long term cure. We can only print money for so long! Unemployment is about to reach 15-20% and is projected to go as high as 32%. Many small businesses and large ones as well along with jobs will die soon and never return as well.

You said...." Get the economy open. The workforce is eager to work and anxious about their family's future."

Really? Sure...go to work under 50 folks...before one should...get the virus and then infect your grandparents and watch them die. Now that's how 'to be anxious about your family's future!

State Line:

You failed to address my points and instead, as is common in the “Progressive” playbook, chose to insult. Your veiled attempt to paint Michigan protesters as racist bigots is beneath you. If a few did wave a confederate flag, it certainly is not reflective of the vast majority of folks who protest to salvage their job and their livelihood.

I do stand corrected regarding the constitutions of Germany and Japan, but neither of them are as robust as our Bill of Rights guarantee, but thank you for the correction.

Next, I have outlined draconian measures taken up by various governors and even mayors that have no basis in fact such as: banning surfing, banning religious services, banning the selling of seeds, banning folks using motorboats, etc…. This list is too long for this post. However, nearly every state failed to ban the sale of alcohol and marijuana. Certainly these are not “essential” are they? Don’t get me wrong, I believe that if folks want to buy them, let them have at it.

And, the use of cloth masks is just plain silly, for as recent as March 26th, the CDC stated they are not effective, but now, just mere days later we have fellow citizens informing on folks who aren’t wearing them. Scary indeed. And, do you dispute the University of Minnesota’s study l previously mentioned? Or are they too “Cultists?”

I must also point out the misconception guiding several responses here: this virus *is* dangerous to our young people. Not only because they can contract and spread it, but also because it causes lasting, permanent damage to the lungs and other functions of the body to a debilitating degree, assuming the individual survives the illness. Many are predicted to need months of time to fully recover. Others, despite being young and healthy, simply die. All of this is avoidable.

It is absurd to me that we are still arguing whether or not to take these steps when the amount of cases and hospitalizations are still climbing. As SomeGuy points out, we have plenty of information from other countries on how they dealt with these hurdles and none of them were dealing with whining about not being able to get their haircut or go to the gym in the midst of a pandemic. We have been warned multiple times about the certainty of a second wave of the pandemic that will come if we relax the guidelines. Looking back through history tells us that a second wave would be far more deadly than the first. Why would we risk bringing that upon ourselves?

Be honest about what you are arguing for here. You are demanding the labor of our young people at great personal risk to themselves and their families in the service of profit. It is sinful.

I agree with Mr. Tom Wards' editorial "More work less 'hope'" in the 4/15/20 issue of the Valley Breeze. It is about time to take a more nuanced and intelligent approach to the deathly pandemic now sweeping the nation. Not being dead is not the same as living. Or in Mr. Wards' words: "No, this isn’t worth it." To hunker down until an vaccine is developed would be disastrous and poses its own public health problems.
We might consider replacing the universal lockdown with selective isolation and profiling. For instance, children seem to recover from an infection without trouble, whereas for some elderly it could be deathly. By excluding children from the lockdown we could initiate herd immunity which in turn would benefit the elderly.
Our governor, Gina Raimondo, like many, many others, has taken a sledge hammer approach to halting the pandemic. I prefer Mr. Wards' rational approach. Our life depends on it.
https://youtu.be/f9HLoWBYN84 (2h05) State Lockdowns Were Never Justified.