Opinion | Shut it all down — again

States like Iowa, Florida, and Texas are experiencing a second wave due to their rapid reopening.


Jenna Galligan

Photo Illustration by Jenna Galligan

Chloe Peterson, Opinions Columnist

States need to shut down again to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic.

If there’s one thing that the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us, it’s that the American people cannot take care of themselves. The very day that states opened bars, restaurants, or beaches, thousands of people were going out, not wearing masks and ignoring social distancing guidelines.

Wisconsin Dells saw over 100,000 people over the Fourth of July weekend. Despite the popular waterpark Noah’s Ark only allowing one-third capacity, people still were packed into the wave pool, blatantly ignoring social distancing requests from both the state and the park management.

At Diamond Lake in Michigan, people were standing shoulder-to-shoulder in the water, barely giving themselves enough room to turn around.

The American people have proven, time and time again, that when given the choice, they will choose themselves. It doesn’t matter if 132,000 people have died in the country due to this pandemic. They will cling to the lifestyle that they knew pre-pandemic, they will choose their ‘freedom’ over people’s lives.

States came out of lockdown way too early. To actually mitigate the virus, states need to go into lockdown again, and shut down bars, beaches, and attractions until the U.S. can actually get this pandemic under control.

The best example of mitigating the pandemic is New Zealand. New Zealand went into a severely strict lockdown in March, shutting down all businesses except for grocery stores, corner stores, and pharmacies. Restaurants were not able to open at all, not even for takeout. The country stayed in that strict lockdown for four weeks, before slowly opening the economy again.

Now, New Zealand is carrying on as normal. Sporting and musical events are allowed to take place with no restrictions. In a population of five million, the county has recorded 1,533 cases and only 22 deaths.

In comparison, South Carolina has a population of 5.1 million people, with 44,847 cases and 820 deaths.

On the other side of the world, the U.S. is experiencing a second wave before the first one even ended.

Texas saw a surge in cases after they reopened bars and restaurants to dine in. Even after the governor ordered bars to close again on June 26th, Texas saw its record high in cases on July 4th, with 8,258. Now, Texas is having the same hospital bed shortage that New York York was back in April. Several Texas cities are worried that they will run out of hospital beds in the next two weeks, with a record high of 8,181 people hospitalized for the coronavirus on July 5.

Florida is worse off than Texas. With the state’s rapid reopening of the economy, people have been going to bars and beaches. Florida’s cases have skyrocketed, with 40,000 new cases in four days – from July 2 to July 5. Cases in Florida now make up 20 percent of total cases in the U.S. Hospitals have needed to ban elective surgeries once again as more and more COVID-19 cases need hospitalization. Despite that, the governor of Florida is refusing to issue a new lockdown order, instead only banning drinking alcohol at bars.

Iowa never officially shut down. Although governor Kim Reynolds took many of the same steps as shut down states, like temporarily shuttering nonessential businesses and limiting restaurants to takeout, she never felt the need to place a safer at home order. And even though we never really shut down, we still opened up too early. Iowa was one of the first states to reopen in early May, despite rising cases at that time.

Currently, Iowa has 31,716 cases of COVID-19 and 723 deaths. Daily cases have stayed more or less constant throughout the past months – there is no ‘curve’ to the cases. If Iowa had actually shut down and stayed shut down during the worst of the pandemic, the state could have prevented a lot of pain and unnecessary death to Iowans.

Cases are rising more than they were when everything shut down in March, and individual people do not care. If the U.S. wants to actually put an end to the COVID-19 pandemic, states will need to shut down again and actually stay shut down.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.


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