North Dakota needs to be open for business. A group of conservative lawmakers signed onto a letter this week expressing as much. A non-scientific poll on Point of View’s Facebook page currently shows nearly 75% of respondents who feel the same.
Unfortunately, the state’s Chief Executive — Governor Doug Burgum — doesn’t agree. As you’re likely aware, yesterday, he extended his Executive Order restricting certain businesses and closing others an additional 10 days— through April 30th.
Make no mistake about it, many North Dakotans are suffering— and not from the virus known as COVID-19. In fact, North Dakota is now one of the worst states with unemployment claims— a 9,000% increase compared to this time last year. And yes, while many of those claims come as a result of low oil prices, let’s not pretend that Governor Burgum’s response to the Coronavirus isn’t a significant factor as well. It is.
For many business owners, the oil downturn was bad enough. Add in the Executive Orders, from a millionaire governor, and it’s like a boot to the neck of someone whose already been knocked down.
Oh, and the $349 Billion “small business rescue loan program” — known as the Paycheck Protection Program — that was signed by President Donald Trump last month— it’s gone. As reported on CNBC today:
“Though lawmakers appear close to extending funds for the programs, the pace at which U.S. small businesses exhausted the initial $349 billion program likely speaks to the extent and severity state-imposed business closures are having on restaurants, gas stations and other mom and pop retailers across the country.” (Emphasis Added)
Initially, the main goal of government intervention — in the name of “public health” — was to “flatten the curve”. But if you look at the “Trending Curve” on the North Dakota Department of Health’s own website, you’ll see that its basically flat already in our state. (Note: Look at the green line showing new cases.)
Remember, when we’re talking about flattening the curve, we’re not talking about eliminating the virus. We’re talking about spreading the amount of people infected over a period of time, so we don’t overwhelm existing medical facilities.
Let’s also not forget that, by their own admission, state officials have acknowledged that less than 1% of our hospital capacity is occupied by individuals with COVID-19— about 0.4% to be exact. Today’s numbers show 14 hospitalized.
We’re clearly nowhere near overwhelming our medical system. In fact, quite the opposite. Healthcare providers are furloughing employees and cutting pay, because of the fallout for their businesses.
As of this writing, nearly 97% of those tested have come back negative.
It’s also worth noting that of the 53 counties in North Dakota, just 8 of them have 10 or more cases. Those 8 counties account for 346 of the 393 positives (88%). Cass County alone has 152 of them (39%).
Then there’s this statistic almost nobody is talking about— 23 counties don’t have a single documented case of the virus.
Undoubtedly, some will point to these numbers and claim that the draconian Executive Orders are working. But again, at what cost? Besides, if this is about flattening the curve, then even by that standard restrictions should be lifted. So, what exactly is Burgum trying to accomplish here?
There seems to be a fear among some that lifting these restrictions will lead to a spike in cases of COVID-19. That may be so, but again, this isn’t about eliminating the virus. If it were, then would we all just shelter in place until a vaccine comes along? Can you imagine the consequences of that?
I can’t help but wonder how much longer North Dakotans are going to tolerate this? Are we honestly satisfied to let one man dictate these things to the rest of us? And if so, can we honestly call ourselves a free people?
Governor Burgum is doing more harm than good with these Executive Orders. It’s time to get back to work.
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