Saturday, May 23, 2020
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but Atlanta is not burning. Bodies are not piled up in the streets. Hospitals in Georgia are not being overwhelmed; in fact, they are virtually empty. There is no mad rush for ventilators (remember those?). Instead, men, women, and children in the Peach State are returning to some semblance of normal life.
Oh, my apologies, you were waiting for bad news? Sorry, I forgot, we were actually not supposed to be rooting for the virus. Despite the apparent relish behind headlines like "Georgia's Experiment in Human Sacrifice," one assumes that most Americans, even the ones most committed to omnidirectional prophecies of doom, were actually hoping this would happen.
While it really is a shame that we do not get to gloat about the cravenness and stupidity of yet another GOP politician, I think on balance most of us will be glad to hear that Gov. Brian Kemp was not badly wrong here.
What is happening instead of the widely predicted bloodbath? Confirmed cases of the virus are obviously increasing (though the actual rolling weekly average of new ones have been headed down for nearly a month) while deaths remain more or less flat. In fact, data both from states like Georgia and from abroad suggests that the lifting of lockdowns is positively correlated with a decrease in rates of infection.
This is not to say that things in the Peach State cannot possibly take a turn for the worse, especially if appropriate measures are not taken in nursing homes. Two much narrower claims are being made. The first is that those who insisted that Georgia would be transformed into a post-apocalyptic wasteland within days or even weeks of reopening were wrong, and predictably so.
The second is that this is something about which we should be happy.
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