Stay home? Just before midnight on Sunday, the president tweeted (in all caps) that in order to make sure the COVID-19 "cure" isn't "worse than the problem itself," American authorities will "make a decision as to which way we want to go" at the "end of the 15 day period" that started on March 16th.
Obviously, and non-controversially, our institutions should keep reassessing their reactions to the new coronavirus in order to determine the best solutions. But Trump seems to be suggesting that in eight days American businesses might start reopening and our self-quarantines might start ending. That seems overly optimistic (in fitting with the White House's general COVID-19 response).
This morning, the president went a step further, retweeting someone who suggested that soon only high-risk individuals would have to isolate themselves:
Correct. 15 days, then we keep the high risk groups protected as necessary and the rest of us go back to work.
— Steph (@steph93065) March 23, 2020
Meanwhile, some U.S. lawmakers want to see a national shelter-in-place order for at least two weeks.
On Monday morning, Rep. Ro Khanna (D–Calif.) started circulating a letter that calls for an immediate order instituting a national, two-week shelter-in-place.
Our nation needs an immediate shelter in place for at least two weeks.
Who will step up and join me in this call?
We have to act swiftly to save lives.#COVIDActNow
— Rep. Ro Khanna (@RepRoKhanna) March 23, 2020
"Shelter in place" isn't quite as scary as it seems, since people can still leave their homes for a variety of reasons. "Shelter-in-place isn't a legal term," explains WAMU:
In most places, businesses deemed non-essential have been ordered to close all physical locations. The federal government gives states broad authority when it comes to designating what's essential or not, but places like restaurants, bars, nightclubs, hair salons and retail shops have generally been categorized as non-essential.
Gas stations, grocery & convenience stores, banks and pharmacies are among the businesses most jurisdictions consider essential and are allowed to remain open….
No state is yet preventing people from leaving their homes completely, and the strictness of the measures varies by jurisdiction. Most states include a number of exceptions to shelter-in-place, including going to work, grocery shopping, walking the dog, going out for a run or bike ride or getting medical care.
And as of yet (thank goodness), no one is setting up checkpoints, randomly demanding to know where people are going, or otherwise instituting a police state.
But most of the states with shelter-in-place orders "have made violating the orders a misdemeanor, often punishable by a fine," says WAMU. So far, enforcement has mostly been on an honor system; I don't imagine that will last for too long.
Would a national shelter-in-place order make a federal crime out of such violations? Let's hope not…
As of this morning, details of the draft order to be circulated among Congress were still being worked out, Khanna's office said.
Who would enforce the national shelter-in-place order? What penalties it would it bring? Who would get to decide to extend the ban, for how long at a time, and under what circumstances? (The Trump administration might just decide it likes this sort of power.) Would local governments still get to determine for themselves what businesses, services, and types of travel are essential, or would that be up to the feds? (Again, a scary prospect, no matter which party is in power.)
In general, the more we trust local leaders to know what's best for their own communities, the less we risk massive civil liberties abuses and financial ruin. This is especially true in our current political climate.
German business owners pricing in negative externalities. At REWE supermarket anyone buying 2 packs of #toiletpaper pays 5 Euros extra, buying 3 packs 10 Euros extra. Money gets donated to charity assisting ppl affected by #COVID19 #PigouvianTax pic.twitter.com/r0Iedsnd3N
— Anne Karing (@AnneKaring) March 21, 2020
China ???????? is one of only 11 #FreedomInTheWorld countries that engaged in ethnic cleansing or forced demographic change, and its treatment of Uighurs in 2019 is the result of decades of minority persecution.
— Freedom House (@freedomhouse) March 23, 2020
- A loss of smell or taste may be an early sign of COVID-19 infection.
- Apple is donating millions of masks to health care workers.
- Sen. Rand Paul (R–Ky.) and incarcerated former movie producer Harvey Weinstein are among those who have reportedly tested positive for COVID-19.
- Lawyer and Above the Law blog founder David Lat, who chronicled his early days of feeling ill (and not being able to get tested), was put on a ventilator over the weekend and deemed to be in critical condition.
- In Germany—where Prime Minister Angela Merkel is quarantining after interacting with a doctor who tested positive for COVID-19—the government is banning meetings of two or more people.
- Japan gets realistic about the 2020 Olympic Games:
— Amichai Stein (@AmichaiStein1) March 23, 2020
- Is now a terrible time to buy a home?
- "If lawmakers don't allow farmers markets to remain open, the impact on many small farm businesses will be swift, severe, and in many cases fatal," writes Baylen Linnekin.
- Delivery of many non-essential items on Amazon are being delayed a month.
- At Rikers prison, 21 inmates, 12 employees, and five health workers have tested positive for COVID-19.
- California lawmakers call on the Food and Drug Administration to end the ban on gay and bisexual men donating blood:
For years, I've opposed the discriminatory ban on gay & bisexual men from donating blood if they have been sexually active in the last year. It's not science based, it's bigoted & dangerous. Today, I join Senator @Scott_Wiener in calling on the FDA to immediately repeal the ban! pic.twitter.com/Jh4AHsU5IA
— Ash Kalra (@Ash_Kalra) March 22, 2020
- The trouble with a new antitrust bill.
- 3D-printed masks might not work: a thread. Start here:
3D printed masks-
I have been 3D printing wearables for years. You can 3D print a bikini because your body conforms to the plastic- which is flexible but not really soft. The bones in your face don't conform this way. A TPU mask is not soft enough to create an airtight seal. https://t.co/tvMRq8QXEs pic.twitter.com/76Ib5RIXsU
— Naomi Wu 机械妖姬 (@RealSexyCyborg) March 19, 2020