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Notes from my dining room table

Debra Saunders on

I'm not talking about college kids on spring break, but entrepreneurs, service workers and families in tight spaces.

Which brings to mind Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak, who last weekend shut down the state's public schools through April 6. Why? The CDC website recommends school closures only when someone with a confirmed infection has been in a school or in districts with community transmission. Even then, the CDC recommends closures for two to five days.

If you go into the state's coronavirus webpage, there's a link to the CDC guidelines. CDC modeling projects no change in the infection curve or hospitalizations after school closures of two to four weeks. And the models predict multiple downsides -- interrupted learning, increased risk for grandparent caretakers, more social mixing outside of school. Not to mention there's no school.

But state's governors were so eager to look as if they were ahead of the curve that more than 30 of them shut down all their schools.

Sisolak could counter that there is a risk, as Heard Elementary School in North Las Vegas reported a Clark County school's first case. It's a sad milestone that would call for school closure and cleanup is already underway. But is it worth the closure of every Nevada public, private and magnet school?

On Tuesday night, Sisolak called for a 30-day closure of "nonessential businesses" -- with little explanation as to why his constituents should stop making money for a month when the president's coronavirus task force is pushing "15 Days to Slow the Spread."

Sisolak spokesman Ryan McInerney said that the chief medical officers of all of Nevada's hospitals advised in favor of a 30-day closure.

Sisolak told Nevadans: "This is affecting the lives of our citizens. People are dying. You know, every day that is delayed here, I'm losing a dozen people on the back end. They're going to die as a result of this."

 

The inference is that if you question the policy, you want people to die. It took guts then for Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman to appeal to the governor to shorten his 30-day shutdown because she doesn't want to see Las Vegas choke.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has issued more measured restrictions, such as a mandate that 75% of nonessential workforce work from home. Thursday morning, he tried to quell the panic when he told reporters, "Let's just take a deep breath and make sure we're all acting on facts instead of acting on fear." He added, "The facts we can handle."

My fear is that when governments impose -- not suggest -- closures too soon, and those measures don't stem the tide sufficiently, but they do manage to destroy people's livelihoods, the public will tire of closures if and when more stringent measures are needed.

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Contact Debra J. Saunders at dsaunders@reviewjournal.com or 202-662-7391. Follow @DebraJSaunders on Twitter.

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Copyright 2020 Creators Syndicate, Inc.
 

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