Does Scientific Data Undermine North Carolina Governor’s Slow Reopening?

There’s a minor brouhaha going on over Trump and Pence threatening to move the RNC convention from Charlotte, NC, over NC’s slow reopening. Breitbart attempts to make the case that the state really should be fully open per the data

Scientific Data Undermine North Carolina Democrat Governor’s Slow Rolled Reopening

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, justified his slow reopening of the state on Monday after President Trump threatened to move the location of the Republican National Convention, currently scheduled to be held in Charlotte from August 24 to August 27, if the governor fails to move more quickly.

“North Carolina is relying on data and science to protect our state’s public health,” Cooper said in a statement made in response to the president’s comments on Monday.

But a look at the science and the data suggest that a complete reopening of the state is in order now. Protesters who gathered in several locations on Monday calling to “ReOpen NC” agreed.

Cooper announced on Wednesday that the state would move to Phase 2 of reopening–which still prohibits bars and gyms from reopening and limits gatherings to ten or fewer–on Friday. Cooper said his Phase 2 “Safer at Home” executive order will remain in effect until at least June 26.

Yeah, the gym thing is annoying, especially when you are talking about small gyms and studios. I can understand the concern about sweat getting everywhere, but, you clean clean clean. It might be a problem in the bigger exercise facilities, but, then, you know who tends to be the healthiest and least likely to get Bat Soup virus? That’s right, people who exercise! I understand keeping bars and nightclubs closed.

The governor conceded that the data for all major criteria for reopening, except for total number of new cases, have either leveled or decreased. The number of new daily cases has increased, but so too has the number of daily tests administered. The percentage of those tested for COVID-19 who are positive declined from 13 percent on April 26, to eight percent on May 20, the day he made his announcement, and current hospitalizations have remained level:

  • North Carolina’s syndromic surveillance trend for COVID-like illness is decreasing.
  • North Carolina’s trajectory in percent of tests returning positive has been decreasing and is starting to level.
  • North Carolina’s trajectory of hospitalizations is level.

From April 29 to May 18, the number of patients currently hospitalized with COVID-19 declined from 551 to 487, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCHHS). In the intervening week, it increased back up to 554 as of May 20, when Gov. Cooper made his announcement. (snip)

Gov. Cooper has consistently slow walked the reopening of North Carolina, as Breitbart News reported back on April 29 when the governor refused to move the state to Phase 1 before May 8, even though the guidelines for Phase 1 reopening had been met more than a week earlier.

63% of those who have died in North Carolina from COVID-19 were in nursing homes. I live in one the state’s largest counties, where the capital is located. It was the first county to have a case. I know of a total of three people who had it. A coworkers wife, someone back in the shop, and one customer who claimed she had it and was recovering. That’s it. Not evening hearing the “friend of a friend has it” type meme.

But, really, what does all the data mean? Not much, because people aren’t necessarily ready for a full on reopening. Would you be comfortable in a restaurant at full capacity? How about people being in your personal bubble, which is out to 6 feet now? Shaking hands? Walking through a packed grocery store? Despite Cooper being a Democrat, I’ll give him some props for not going nuts with the restrictions like other Democrat governors. Coronavirus is not going away. It will still be around. There is a serious concern with a resurgence, particularly when we start getting colder weather in the fall/winter. People should continue to keep their distance, wash their hands a lot, and just be careful. What’s the problem with that?

As much as I want to see the state, and the nation, fully reopened, caution is never unwarranted in a pandemic. When I see the webcam showing people being way, way too close down at Carolina Beach and others, well, obviously, that’s their choice, but, they can be putting other people at risk. It’s all a balancing act. And lots and lots of people are not quite ready to make a full reopening, regardless of political party.

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