These shutdowns were always meant to be temporary, emergency measures, like a donut spare tire you can only use until you get to the shop. It was to give us time to expand our hospital capacity, which we’ve done, and to spread out the infections so we didn’t overwhelm the medical system. It was to give us time to get more data, and to plan, and to act.
But it could not last. Humans aren’t built to be isolated from one another for this long, and we all recognize that life must still go on. We have to feed ourselves, pay for our homes and utilities, preserve our livelihoods for the future, and do all the things that make life worth living. Americans in particular don’t put up with boredom or confinement well, and we definitely don’t like being bossed around, at least not quite so overtly, and certainly not so arbitrarily. Under the best of leaders, where we knew what “victory” over this virus meant and where goalposts weren’t being moved, maybe we’d stay hunkered down for another month if clearly necessary, but even then it wouldn’t have lasted. And we don’t have that best-case leadership scenario. . . .
When people begin to understand that their leaders aren’t leading any more, they will either find other people to follow, or just go off and do their own thing. Political power is not only taken away at the ballot box, it’s also taken away when people just stop listening to you, which they will do when it becomes apparent you have nothing to say. And if someone else does have something to say, well, your power bleeds away that much faster. . . .
Individually, people are already making their own plans, and are slowly but surely executing them. They aren’t going to wait indefinitely for an as-yet-undetermined amount of testing to take place – they can’t afford to. Every day we’re seeing more traffic on the roads. Every day we see more people in the stores still allowed to be open. The protests will get bigger, and will expand far beyond a few cranks and conspiracy theorists. People will start hosting their own parties, with more and more people caring less and less about social distancing. Desperate small business owners will begin operating again, legal or not – what threat is a fine when you lose ten times that amount every day your doors are closed? The legal marijuana industry is struggling because a well-used black market was already in place – how long will it be before passwords to speakeasy barber shops (or hell, actual speakeasies) start floating around, or illicit home deliveries or services become the norm?
When other states open before we do (which they will because they all are actively planning for it and we’re still just planning to plan until more numbers come in), how many people will drive across a border to spend their money, leaving Nevada businesses and Nevada workers in the cold longer than necessary? COVID-19’s impact on our state will be The Worst without additional self-inflicted wounds.
And once these seals are broken without everyone suddenly dropping dead in the streets, are people really going to listen when the next “second wave” shutdown order is issued?
Trust is the most important resource during a crisis, and it’s the resource our ruling class takes most for granted.