Our governor yesterday issued a “stay at home” advisory, which apparently is just short of a “shelter-in-place” order … or not. On Sunday he made a vague comment on the possible side-effects of such an edict, perhaps referring to the economic impact, and gave the both-sides lament that he’ll be criticized for doing too much (to save lives) or too little (again, to save lives).
To be clear: We are trading our economy for human lives. He is right to note the trade-off; but you would think that he’d have a stronger opinion on what’s more important. There’s no economy if you’re dead. And yes, we will need radical government intervention — even to the point of societal restructuring, to avoid immense suffering and deprivation: Essentially a Universal Basic Income; the freezing of rent and mortgage payments; significant help for gig workers and waitstaff; and so forth.
A pandemic grows exponentially — therefore the slightest difference in the exponent is the difference between thousands of deaths, and millions. I’m truly not sure that Governor Baker grasps this.
In the meantime … people are very unaccustomed to complying with these very radical curtailments of human interaction. When the weather was nice the last few days, and parks and paths in Arlington were not barren, not empty. People were not keeping six, or even three feet of distance — not because they are stubborn or defiant or ignorant (I hope), but rather because it goes against every habit and instinct we’ve ever had about how to relate to each other.
But the choices we made a few weeks ago are bearing fruit — for good or ill — now. And the choices we make right now, today, will determine the crisis in coming weeks.
Stay inside, and be of good courage.