Reopening Is Not a Failure

As the Northeast, the epicenter of the pandemic in the U.S. for months, has seen steep, persistent declines in confirmed cases, other parts of the country have spiked. A month or so ago, most of the increased cases were a function of increased testing. Now, states like Florida, Texas, and Arizona have seen worrying increases in their positivity rates — the percentage of tests that are positive — in a sign of accelerating community spread.

The media’s tone about this trend is, of course, apocalyptic, with many commentators portraying the Republican governors of these states as callous extremists hell-bent on reopening, come what may. The fact is that states all over the country have been reopening, and California and North Carolina, both with Democratic governors, have seen spikes in new confirmed cases, too (although not dramatically increasing positivity rates). It’s also irksome to see these governors depicted as villains at the same time New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is lionized as a hero, despite New York’s vastly higher death rate and his fateful decision to send COVID-positive patients into nursing homes.

The reality is that Greg Abbott, Ron DeSantis, and Doug Ducey are reasonable, public-spirited men who never said they would insist on full reopening regardless of the consequences. Abbott has closed bars back down and further restricted the capacity of restaurants. He’s also stopped elective surgeries again in hard-hit areas and will allow counties to mandate wearing masks in public. DeSantis, too, has shuttered bars, while Florida localities are tightening up again on some restrictions. Ducey is hitting the brakes on the state’s reopening process.

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