With the onset of winter in many states to our north, surges have occurred in the number of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations. We’ve avoided much of the latest wave in Louisiana.
Gov. John Bel Edwards is right to want to keep it that way.
The surge in cases isn’t entirely limited to the Frost Belt. Folks in El Paso, Texas, have seen alarming numbers of new cases and a crisis in ICU beds, for example.
And if we don’t have harsh winters, we do get cool weather and more people will want to be inside. It’s simply a matter of common sense that the spread of the novel coronavirus is more likely inside than out.
Edwards extended the current Phase 3 restrictions through Dec. 4 by executive order, although he once again gave a little as people do want to enjoy milder days this time of year. High school football games can now seat up to 50% capacity.
However, the main thing is that restrictions are needed as the numbers of cases rise in the nation. “Now is exactly the wrong time to remove these restrictions and mitigation measures,” Edwards said.
We agree, although as always we remain concerned — as we are confident Edwards is — that economic and social costs rise during the dreadful shutdowns of 2020.
Business failures and unemployment are common and families are making sacrifices. Unfortunately, this is a situation in which there is no easy solution. Another rapid rise in cases, and thus hospitalizations, would again threaten the stability of health care.
We don’t want to be El Paso, nor where we were months ago.
There is the usual Louisiana political drama, with a GOP-led Legislature trying to suspend at least for a while the executive orders that Edwards has used, successfully, to combat COVID-19. The next court hearing in that political power struggle will come Thursday, but so far the governor has had a pretty good track record in court.
Attorney General Jeff Landry, once a backer of restrictions, is now irresponsibly attacking them: "We’ve got a governor that believes he knows what’s best for each and every one of you," Landry said at a Livingston Parish event. "He believes you don’t have enough sense to take care of yourselves.”
In fact, the attorney general’s rhetoric reveals a truth about the pandemic: People do want to take care of themselves. That is why business restrictions, not an end but a means, are not really driven by orders and enforcement, but by residents worried about a life-threatening disease.
We don’t like restrictions, especially over Thanksgiving and potentially into the Christmas and Hanukkah season. But we see their necessity, and we’re not going to indulge in populist rhetoric over harsh necessities of life.