Who do you want to believe, Jimmy Faircloth or Henry Kaufman?
The first is the lawyer, executive counsel to former Gov. Bobby Jindal, filing lawsuits on behalf of Acadiana and metro New Orleans bar owners. They challenge the decisions of Gov. John Bel Edwards on tough social distancing rules that have unquestionably damaged the businesses.
The other is a veteran physician who was not writing for publication but his memo to colleagues made the rounds of social media.
“We all went into medicine out of a sense of the common good, to heal the sick and to ease suffering,” he wrote in cry from the heart. “Currently our community is sick, the disease is ignorance and misinformation and you, my colleagues, are the cure. The patient requires your attention. Act.”
We vote for the doc.
Kaufman is chief medical officer at Our Lady of Lourdes in Lafayette. He wrote that he has found too many people who reject wearing masks or other social distancing — the kind of orders that have fallen to Edwards, as chief executive of the state, to put into regulations to protect public safety.
The doctor’s words are powerful: “I am confronted daily by individuals in our community who believe that the pandemic is a hoax, that it is politically motivated, that things are not as bad as the media portrays. If anyone doubts it, I invite them to accompany me personally on a tour of our ICU and the COVID units.”
Does this make Faircloth’s clients bad people? We don’t think so, but it is reckless to challenge public safety, especially as Kaufman’s memo makes the exactly opposite points Faircloth makes. The lawyer says new data undermines Edwards’ decisions.
“Further, the public has become well versed in the art of social distancing, and businesses have learned to alter their environments to accommodate this practice. Simply put, although perhaps justified months ago, it is no longer sufficient to rely on hysteria, hearsay or biased commentary as a basis to impose overly broad, draconian restrictions on fundamental rights,” Faircloth wrote.
Who is being hysterical here?
We do not have the worries of Dr. Kaufman and his colleagues, bravely treating the victims of a worldwide pandemic. But we share the concerns of every business owner, particularly small businesses like many bars and restaurants, that the Phase 2 restrictions put into place by Edwards, and strengthened in New Orleans by Mayor LaToya Cantrell, are bad news economically. That is undeniable.
We’re confronted with a situation that, from the beginning, has meant that leaders had to make tough choices between bad alternatives. Faircloth’s arguments will get a day in court but we think Dr. Kaufman’s heartfelt sentiments are what people should pay attention to.