Allen: Lockdown appears unwarranted
Gov. Phil Scott and his team have visited upon Vermont an epic coronavirus policy disaster. I voted for him twice, believing he'd be a jobs and small business governor. Instead, using grossly inaccurate models, officials crashed Vermont's economy, threw 90,000 middle-and-low income people out of work, and closed the schools.
Our hospitals are going broke. They've trashed the state's tax base, compromising every program serving the disadvantaged. People are frightened. Few can work from home. Most Vermonters live paycheck to paycheck. Unemployment will surely pass Great Depression levels.
And for what? As of today, 47 COVID-19 deaths have occurred in a population of 630,000. Nearly all the deaths are over 70 and about half from nursing homes. Almost all are in Burlington, not rural Vermont. Almost all had life threatening, preexisting conditions.
We know the models the state selected were wrong, on every front, from deaths to hospital bed use to ventilators needed to ICU use. Who's responsible for the bad advice?
Some more questions. Did the state bother to model the effect of 25 percent unemployment on opioid, alcohol, spousal, and child abuse?
Why isn't Vermont doing seriology tests? Seriology tests everywhere — New York, the UK, Europe, and California — are now showing that vast numbers of people have COVID-19 antibodies, meaning the virus infection is widespread. These tests show that 9 out of 10 people infected with COVID-19 have no symptoms. They also show the mortality rate is about 0.3 percent, about the same as a bad flu season.
Why were our nursing homes left with such glaring vulnerability?
Why is the Northeast Kingdom and other very rural parts of Vermont treated the same as Chittenden County, which is not much better than Queens and Brooklyn? The demographics and living conditions are entirely different.
Did the state model the effect of a devastated tax base on revenue? The state now has a financial crisis, with big budget cuts and tax hikes on the horizon. Gov. Scott has undone everything he's accomplished on the fiscal and jobs front.
Vermont's poor and its workers will face the brunt. The rich will be fine.
Did the state model the effects of deferred medical care since doctor's offices are shut and non-emergency surgery is banned? People are putting off treatment for existing health problems. How many lives will be lost?
How many early cancers are going undetected? As far as I know, you can't get a colonoscopy on Zoom.
How many Vermonters will lose their health insurance? The bad implications of this are endless.
Crashing a good economy, throwing working class and middle class people out of work, and strangling everyone's civil rights have never been done to fight a virus. If something's never been done, there's usually a good reason why. What an adventure. What recklessness.
What's the end game? The state, led by Gov. Scott, did a great job building our hospital capacity. The beds are empty, but they're here. Do we crash the Vermont economy in the fall when flu season starts? There's no vaccine for this and many other viruses. We'll have better treatment, I hope.
Are we sending kids the right message? "Face a risk, hide under the covers." Life's filled with risks. People we love die, 6,000 a year in Vermont, 3 million a year in the entire country.
Gov. Scott talks about opening the spigot slowly but will much water come out? You can't throttle an already-fragile economy like Vermont's and expect it to rouse and tap dance.
Gov. Scott should allow small businesses to reopen. There's enough guidance on social distancing. He should also, at the very least, reopen the rural schools. Arlington has less than 15 students per class. It has entrepreneurial teachers and leadership. Treat Burlington and its suburbs differently, if you think that's best. Have some faith in everyone else, in rural Vermont, to do the right thing.
Brian Allen lives in Arlington.
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