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We’ve been under a Stay-at-Home order in New Hampshire (ironically named the “Live Free or Die” state) since March 26. The original rationale for the order was to “flatten the curve” so that the hospitals did not become overwhelmed. We never came anywhere close to being overwhelmed. The highest number of hospitalizations at one time was about 115, and there are more than a thousand beds set aside for COVID treatment. In fact, hospitals across the state have been furloughing staff, including nurses and doctors, and cutting hours due to severe revenue shortfalls. The hospitals are underwhelmed.
But on May 1, Governor Chris Sununu, a nominal Republican, extended his Stay-at-Home Order to the end of the month, and yesterday he said he may extend the state’s lockdown again for “a couple more months.”
Friend of Ricochet Michael Graham of NH Journal has the details:
At Friday’s COVID-19 presser, Gov. Chris Sununu told NHJournal the New Hampshire lockdown that’s left nearly 200,000 Granite Staters out of work might last “a couple more months.”
NHJournal asked the Republican governor what the rationale was for continuing the current business shutdown into the summer now that Sununu’s original benchmark — “flattening the curve” — has been met. (“Flattening the curve” refers to keeping the increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations below the state’s healthcare systems capacity to treat them.)
“I guess if you’re asking for the rationale for keeping the order in place, I would challenge you to tell me what’s the rationale for undoing the order?” Sununu responded.
“We have to talk about the economics of six months, and a year, and two years down the road,” Sununu said. “And you do that by having discipline, by knowing that if you wait a couple more days, or a couple more weeks, or maybe even a couple more months, and you are smart about what you do, you put the entire state in a much healthier position economically in the long run.”
Seems to me it’s not my responsibility to provide a rationale for liberty. It’s the governor’s responsibility to explain why he’s restricting my liberty. Sununu’s standard is no different from “presumed guilty until proven innocent.” It’s a perversion of the American understanding of justice. Our Rights are given to us by God (or Nature, if you prefer). We do not have to justify them to the government.
In an interview at the end of April, U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr described Stay-at-Home orders issued by governors as being “disturbingly akin to house arrest.”
In many municipalities across the country, law enforcement departments have overstepped their bounds to an alarming degree. We have all seen videos of people being arrested for various absurd reasons, such as paddle-boarding alone in the ocean; opening their hair salon for business; letting their children play on nearly empty playgrounds; playing catch with their daughter in a park; and rabbis and ministers have even been arrested and fined for leading religious services. The mayor of Chicago, who broke her own lockdown order to get a hair cut, recently threatened to monitor and arrest people if they even discuss house parties on Facebook.
In my small New Hampshire town, we are a little bit more sane. When Sununu issued his first Stay-at-Home Order, I emailed our chief of police directly and told him I believed the governor’s order was unconstitutional and that I would not be complying with it. Since the governor’s order explicitly instructs state and local authorities to enforce the order, I asked our police chief what he was prepared to do. Would he arrest me if I left my house for a reason that the governor did not approve of? The chief wrote back to me and said he had no intention of arresting anyone for violating the Stay-at-Home order. This is encouraging so long as I don’t leave town.
However, the state’s attorney general issued a memorandum to law enforcement in April, giving individual officers the discretion to arrest people for violating the governor’s Stay-at-Home order. So my freedom is dependent on the whim of random police officers.
Recent polls show Sununu is riding high on public opinion, with more than 80% approving of his handling of the COVID-19 crisis. So he is unlikely to change his current course, which appears to be headed toward an easy reelection in November. Besides, he is enjoying being able to buy ice cream anonymously.
1) Indulging in ice cream to relieve stress.
2) Enjoying the first incognito shopping run I’ve had in years.
3) Feeling super cool like a Western cowboy hero in Aisle 10.
4) Doing my part to follow CDC guidance & not spread #COVID19.
5) All of the Above
Stay safe, NH! pic.twitter.com/UgVgsvmNck
— Chris Sununu (@GovChrisSununu) April 8, 2020
Perhaps Sununu’s high approval rating is not for long, though. New Hampshire has had one of the highest per capital loses of employment in the country with 175,000+ people filing for unemployment benefits in the past six weeks. Prior to that, New Hampshire had one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country.
About 6,000 people have signed a “Reopen New Hampshire” petition, and a recent rally in Concord drew around 500 protesters, and impressive showing in a small state.
NH Journal, again:
Jana, who works at a drug store in Derry, NH, and didn’t give her last name, was visibly upset by the news of Sununu’s comments. “When did he say that? Why would he say that?” she asked. “People aren’t going to put up with this. This is going to get bad,” she told InsideSources.
This is going to get bad, and not because of COVID-19 but because of the overreaction from our various governments at all levels. Will Americans put up with this for “a couple more months” or even longer?
Remember “14 days to slow the spread”? Yeah, that ended more than 40 days ago. Yet here we are. Welcome to the Hotel Stay-at-Home. You can check in but you can never leave.