The biggest joke in former President Barack Obama's endorsement video for presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden was his warning about what Biden is facing. "(I)t won't be easy," he said. "The other side has a massive war chest. The other side has a propaganda network with little regard for the truth."
Obama has almost the entire news media eating out of his hand, and he still whines about Fox News, that irksome "propaganda network." The left complains whenever it can't corner every media market and squelch any uprising of conservative dissent. It's "propaganda" and "disinformation" when you disagree with the left's wonderfully compassionate worldview.
Then there are the comedians, who are even more urgently on the verge of complete groupthink. I opened up my morning email of video clips from Grabien and was just amazed at the venom of commentary from the late-night shows on April 15. Let's start with President Donald Trump's decision to withhold World Health Organization funding for a few months to probe what went wrong with the eruption of the coronavirus from China.
The comedians fell all over themselves competing for the best metaphors to describe Trump as a flaming-hot moron who will harm us all. Who would win the gold medal for hottest burn?
On ABC, there's Jimmy Kimmel, who said: "Stopping funding to an organization that handles pandemics in the middle of a pandemic is like slashing your own tires because you're mad you woke up late for work. So far, he's blamed this on Obama, the governors, the media, the WHO. Has he blamed it on the Mexicans yet?"
On CBS, Stephen Colbert offered his own entry: "It's like when your house is engulfed in flames: The first thing you do is burn down the fire department. The U.S. is the WHO's biggest donor, so Trump is talking about taking away around $553 million. He hasn't done anything this hostile to world health since introducing the burger table" (translation: the fast food feast at the White House for the Clemson football team).
On Comedy Central, "Daily Show" host Trevor Noah joked about Uber when talking about Trump's maligning the "integral" WHO: "It's the same reason you don't give your Uber driver one star during the ride. You do that (expletive) after you are safe at home, not while you're doing 90 on the freeway. 'One star? One star? I will show you one star, motherf-----!'"
The late-night comedians can even trash CNN ... from the left. NBC late-night host Seth Meyers lectured the cable newsers for their live coverage of Trump's coronavirus press briefings. "(I)t doesn't make it better when you give it a negative chyron, like CNN did on Monday with 'Angry Trump Turns Briefing Into Propaganda Session,'" he said. "You know what else turned that into a propaganda session? Pointing your camera at it. Before you showed up it was just 'Crazy Lawn Man Does His Thing.' You can't air a propaganda session and criticize it."
For "balance," we could spy on CBS late-night host James Corden, who interviewed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in her kitchen two nights earlier. Now, she would be held accountable, right? Wrong. For 15 minutes, Corden asked softball questions such as this: "Why is it, do you think, the president is choosing to ignore scientists and science and talk about reopening the country, not shut the country down soon enough? Why do you think?"
Then Corden gushed all over Pelosi when she showed him her expensive freezer loaded with chocolate ice cream. "I have always felt a connection with you, and now I understand why," he said.
To CBS, she's a very sweet and creamy Woman of the People. But look over there at Fox. That network is just full of one-sided, partisan propaganda.
Following new CDC guidlines: "As of April 14, 2020, CDC case counts and death counts include both confirmed and probable cases and deaths. This change was made to reflect an interim COVID-19 position statement issued by the Council for State and Territorial Epidemiologists on April 5, 2020. The position statement included a case definition and made COVID-19 a nationally notifiable disease.
A confirmed case or death is defined by meeting confirmatory laboratory evidence for COVID-19. A probable case or death is defined by i) meeting clinical criteria AND epidemiologic evidence with no confirmatory laboratory testing performed for COVID-19; or ii)
This change is a further example of one of the many reasons why the label "confirmed cases" (used by some to designate total cases) is now considered incorrect (see definitions for more details). The US CDC (and Worldometer) has always used the label "Total Cases." Canada is another example where the "total number includes publicly reported confirmed and probable cases [source]
so that is why we have had so many death numbers jump so high reaching new record highs but not representing an accurate daily death count for example , New York City reported 3,778 additional deaths that have occurred since March 11 and have been classified as "probable," defined as follows: “decedent [...] had no known positive laboratory test for SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) but the death certificate lists as a cause of death “COVID-19” or an equivalent"
From April 14 onward, New York City has provided - and will continue to provide - the updated number of probable deaths in its daily reports.
For declaring in March that the U.S. economy might be reopened by Easter, President Donald Trump was roundly mocked.
Yet, it appears his political instincts were correct. He was more in tune with his country than were his critics.
By early Easter week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the governors of six states in the New York-New Jersey region had formed a consortium to synchronize the opening of their economies. California's Gavin Newsom and the governors of Washington and Oregon had done the same.
The governors may disagree on the timing, May 1 or May 15, but most agree with Trump. America cannot remain shut down for months without lasting damage to the livelihood and lives of millions of citizens who are about to be shoved into a new Great Depression.
Twenty-two million Americans are now unemployed.
However, something just jolted the gathering consensus over the need to reopen soon. Tuesday and Wednesday, the U.S. set records for the numbers of fatalities from the virus. Tuesday it was 2,364 dead, the following day 2,371. That put the national casualty total above 30,000.
The U.S. did not record its first coronavirus fatality until Feb. 29. It took 38 days after that to reach 10,000. However, it took only nine days to vault from 10,000 fatalities to more than 30,000.
The ominous implication: If this 2,300-dead-per-day figure is near the new normal, we would surpass the 61,000 fatalities projected for the duration of the pandemic -- in two weeks!
Even if we reduce the Tuesday-Wednesday average daily death toll by over half, to 1,000 deaths a day, that would mean 44,000 more dead for a total of 75,000 by June 1.
What makes COVID-19 worse than the flu?
The coronavirus is more easily transmissible. It is more savage in how it maims immune systems. It is more lethal, killing far more of the infected than the regular flu, though we do not know exactly how much more lethal. For we have no hard number of those who carry or have carried the virus asymptomatically.
Nor we do know whether having survived COVID-19 renders one immune to a new infection. Since the medical experts are predicting a second wave of the virus in late summer or fall, this is no small matter.
And seeing what happened on the carrier Theodore Roosevelt, the coronavirus could have a major impact on U.S. global commitments.
Americans were already coming home from the Middle East, drawing down our 12,000 troops in Afghanistan after a deal with the Taliban, and moving our 5,000 troops in Iraq into fewer bases.
We have disengaged from the Saudi war against the Houthi rebels in Yemen and are drawing down our forces in Syria.
In Libya's civil war, it is Russians, Turks, Egyptians and Gulf Arabs, not Americans, who are the supporting actors.
American soft power is also in retreat from the world.
Some 10,000 Peace Corps volunteers have been brought home. Scores of thousands of U.S. citizens have been repatriated by the State Department. We have shut the door to Europe, China, the world.
What now becomes of the U.S. geostrategic "pivot," the shift of planes, troops, ships and bases from the Middle and Near East to the Indo-Pacific theater to contain a rising China?
And contain China with what?
The Roosevelt has been ravaged by the coronavirus. As of Tuesday, 589 cases of COVID-19 were reported from a crew of 4,800. Four thousand sailors in Guam are in various stages of a 14-day isolation period in hotels and spare rooms across the island.
But it is not just the Roosevelt. Every U.S. warship -- carriers, cruisers, frigates, destroyers, subs -- has cramped quarters conducive to the spread of the coronavirus.
How many of these vessels will soon be doubling as hospital ships?
The same question might also be asked of the U.S. Army and Marine barracks in South Korea, Japan, Australia and Okinawa.
There are allegations that the coronavirus did not originate in the Wuhan "wet market" where bats are sold for food but instead escaped through a horrible blunder in a Chinese bioweapons laboratory a few miles away.
Whatever the truth, the Wuhan virus appears to have become the most effective means of disabling U.S. hard and soft power that we have encountered in many a decade.
Of those 10,000 Peace Corp volunteers, and scores of thousands of other Americans who have been repatriated home, how many of these "soft power" soldiers will be going back after they have been out of their host country for 18 months?
Will this pandemic prove the decisive factor in America's retreat from global hegemony?
With the U.S. budget deficit for 2020 originally set at $1 trillion, now triple that, there is going to be a hard reckoning for the allocation of our diminished resources after the nation reopens.
And policing the planet is likely to be seen as yesterday's priority, and a primary candidate for discard.
Patrick J. Buchanan
This week in Colorado, our statewide stay-at-home order was extended until April 26. Gov. Jared Polis urged everyone to wear a mask of any kind while outdoors. Local groceries are limiting customers to one every 120 square feet of the store. For the first time, my neighborhood playground on Tuesday was wrapped in bright yellow "CAUTION" tape. And in Brighton, Colorado, a father was handcuffed in an empty park by three police officers for playing T-ball with his 6-year-old daughter and wife.
We are not a serious country. America's "social distancing" campaign has gone both too far and not far enough. The restrictions and guidelines are arbitrary, irrational and unevenly applied.
While children's swings and slides are now crime scenes, golf courses and pickleball courts in my city are wide open.
Weed and booze stores are considered "essential." Ice cream, dessert joints and fast-food outlets with takeout and delivery services are still operating. But family-owned, sit-down restaurants that have been staples in our community have been forced to shut their doors after decades in business.
Barbershops and hair salons here were ordered to close three weeks ago, but government employees on landscaping crews who cut grass -- like the ones I've seen all crammed together in a city truck -- are still earning paychecks subsidized by the taxpayers sidelined from their jobs in the name of safety and public health.
In my state, and across the country, private gyms have been forbidden spaces for the masses for weeks. But if you're a celebrity or Beltway elitist, you can still stay in shape while sanctimoniously taping public service announcements telling everyone else to stay at home.
Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez have been racking up social media clicks by sharing cozy family quarantine videos and coping tips from their multi-million-dollar Florida mansion. "We all need to take care of ourselves, mentally and physically, and also be respectful of the health and well-being of others. At a time when people need to stay apart, we can still find other ways to feel togetherness. Stay connected, and most importantly, stay safe," Rodriguez tweeted to his 1.2 million fans. Yet, last week, the power couple was caught by paparazzi exiting a Miami gym whose front-door sign read: "This gym is not open. Stay home stay safe."
Actors Mario Lopez and Mark Wahlberg have also become quarantine time favorites, sharing dance routines, home workouts and homeschool scenes to show their commitment to self-isolation. But last week, the buff Hollywood bros ventured out to a posh Los Angeles F45 Training facility to tape a partner workout together (with a two-person film crew) that they told their viewers to replicate in their apartments or backyards.
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's personal trainer bragged that until last week, she was working out at the private Supreme Court gym. "Everybody's been shut down," trainer Bryant Johnson told Law360, a legal news and analysis website. "The only reason why I didn't shut the justice down is because, hey, she ain't having it," Johnson said.
Translation: We are not "all in this together," like the cliched hashtag saying goes. The privileged among us get VIP gym access during lockdown, while ordinary Americans are cooped up inside doing pushups in the living room, lunges through the bedroom, makeshift treadmill runs in slippery socks across the kitchen floor, and bicep curls with their jugs of laundry detergent.
Wealthy LA denizens were still flocking to trendy farmers markets last week -- until they were shamed on Nextdoor and other social media outlets. Throngs descended on the D.C. Maine Avenue Fish Market last weekend in defiance of stay-at-home orders. Mardi Gras partiers and spring break students formed contagion-friendly mobs while authorities sat on their hands. Philadelphia hoodlums are still holding tailgate parties with carloads of boozers. New York subways remain stuffed to the gills with commuters on trains and platforms. But cops in Florida did crack down on a pastor in Tampa for holding services at his megachurch, and police in New Jersey arrested 15 attendees at an Orthodox Jewish rabbi's funeral.
Mandatory mass isolation (or at least the illusion of it) is an efficient way to instill hysteria and disrupt lives but a poor means of actually protecting the most vulnerable. Selective social distancing is a futile exercise in virus virtue signaling. Either we're all in or we're all out. You can't attribute curve-flattening to "social distancing" if huge swaths of people never practiced it or opted out when convenient.
How long must we carry on the charade? Public health autocrat Anthony Fauci insists we must continue living like this until there are "no new cases" and "no new deaths" -- and until a vaccine (which his control-freak pal Bill Gates is working overtime to foist on the world) is in place. This is nuts. The zero-cases/zero-deaths standard doesn't exist for any other pandemic. We're strangling ourselves in CAUTION tape, riddled with holes, for show. Pretense is a pointless cure worse than any infectious disease.
Why has so much of the political discussion boiled down to hostile questions and answers at press-conferences and in political analyses on tv, radio, in print and on the internet? We really shouldn’t be surprised. We’ve had almost two decades of “derangement syndromes” focused on our presidents. The ability of politicians to come together in bipartisan cooperation ended sometime after 9/11.
Our frames of reference have changed so let’s think about new questions we’ve been asking. I’m stepping away from the “big 3” most common topics: number of diagnoses, number of deaths, and “how long until the economy is open and I get to work?”
Let’s think about drug development and approval protocol. It occurs to me that our process is set up for excruciatingly deliberate process for non-crises times, and that may be fine. But as we hear about the process for developing and approving an eventual vaccine, which is really the answer to getting back to “normal,” why does the “peace-time” protocol have to apply? Perhaps there’s a good reason, but my money’s on our ability to do things differently, and more quickly, in this emergency.
On a very much related topic, we’ve heard much about the potential of using existing drugs to fight COVID-19. There’s a natural reluctance to rushing into doing that. That’s fine for peacetime, but with known levels of complications and toxicity, etc. and since there was considerable anecdotal success, it seems to me we should have loosened up on normal protocol while facing this crisis. I think we are now seeing that happen, but we didn’t get there automatically. Our President had to push hard for it, and he’s receiving significant push-back from his political opposition.
For me it’s been a revelation as to the lack of U.S. self-sufficiency in terms of markets for critical medical equipment and supplies. Here’s what China has been supplying the U.S. in large numbers and proportions of our total requirements: medical devices, medical face masks, protective clothing, penicillin, aspirin, acetaminophen, prescription drug ingredients, and certain vitamins. China is now second only to Canada in terms of exporting drugs and biologics to the United States. And it is the dominant provider of generic drugs. Add to that rare-earth metals used in technology production. I won’t even list the household supplies, appliances and hardware coming from China. Their leverage over us is huge. That must be reversed.
It’s occurred to me how much people value not only their lifestyle, but also their very existence – their lives. And right now, we’re all “employed” full-time in the defense of human life – ours, and others. I’m hoping some of that will spill over into “peace-time” and influence all of us to understand better the need to discuss the very definition of life – not only as it relates to social justice and that type of thing, but also as it relates to the whole question most Americans want resolved – the issue of the “right-to-life.”
At some point we need to address the following:
· Should we go back to allowing use of plastic bags in the retail setting? We have almost totally transitioned to cloth or reusable plastic bags. We now know those are an easy way for viruses to spread.
· Should urban areas re-think some of their plans for high density living and metro transportation. Viruses spread more easily in those environments.
· Does mass inoculation of prophylactic medicine and vaccines require rethinking “patent law protection” during crises?
· What will be the impact on future policies about border control and border walls?
· It appears that we won’t truly know, during this crisis, exactly what is the value and proper use of face masks.
Quoting Ross Douthat in the New York Times, “Neither Fauci nor any official institution can answer all these questions. We’ll have to answer them one experiment at a time.” There are many things we don’t have the answers to, but we’ll use the power of incentives in our free enterprise economic system to advance solutions on many fronts.
It happened in Chicago, but it did not start or stop there.
A 60-something-year-old woman from the Windy City traveled halfway around the world to Wuhan, China, this past December. Her husband stayed in Illinois. She came home on Jan. 13 -- and brought something with her.
She gave it to her husband.
"The individual did not have symptoms while traveling," Dr. Jennifer Layden, chief medical officer for the Illinois Department of Public Health, explained during a Jan. 24 press briefing sponsored by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
But that, of course, was not the end of the story.
"A few days after arriving home, the patient began to feel unwell," Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Health, said in that briefing.
The doctors tried not to be alarmist as they discussed the problem this virus from Wuhan presented.
"Again, she was not symptomatic when flying, and based on what we know now about this virus, our concern for transmission before symptoms developed is low. So that is reassuring," said Arwady.
"Since returning from China, the patient has had limited movement outside her home," she continued.
"This is all very reassuring in terms of infection risk to the general public, which remains low nationally and locally here in Chicago," the doctor said.
This Chicago woman, who had been in Wuhan, was one of the first known COVID-19 carriers to enter the United States, according to CDC reports. But she was not the first diagnosed with the virus.
On Jan. 15, a man in his 30s arrived back in Snohomish County, Washington. He, too, had been in Wuhan.
On Jan. 21, three days before it would confirm the Chicago case, the CDC announced that this Washington man was the first U.S. resident to test positive for COVID-19.
"I am also thankful that the man who tested positive for this virus acted so quickly to seek treatment," said Dr. John Wiesman, the Washington state Secretary of Health. "Because of that we were able to isolate him from the public. His actions gave us a head start. All of this work means we believe the risk to the public is low."
On Jan. 26, the CDC announced three more cases -- including one in Arizona and two in California.
These three had one thing in common with the first two.
"All of these infections were in people with recent travel to Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the outbreak," said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.
Then another person in Chicago -- who had not been to Wuhan -- tested positive. Who was he?
"The first Illinois case, a woman in her 60s, who returned from Wuhan, China, January 13th, is in the hospital in stable condition, and continues to do well," Layden explained in a Jan. 30 CDC briefing. "Public health officials have been actively and closely monitoring individuals who had contact with her, including her husband, who had close contact, for symptoms."
"We have now received lab confirmation from the CDC that he indeed has novel coronavirus," she said.
This husband was "the first person-to-person transmission" in the United States.
On Jan. 31, the CDC announced the seventh case. "The patient recently returned from Wuhan, China," said the CDC.
That same day, President Donald Trump announced he was suspending entry to the United States for foreign nationals who had been in China within the past 14 days.
In the two days following Trump's announcement, the CDC detected four more cases. Three were in persons who had recently returned from Wuhan. The fourth, the CDC said, was a woman who lived in the same household as one of the previously detected patients who had been in Wuhan.
In its "Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report" published on Feb. 7, the CDC summarized how COVID-19 came to America. "Nine of the first 11 U.S. 2019-nCoV patients were exposed in Wuhan, China," it said.
The other two were the spouse and a household member of U.S. residents who picked up the virus in Wuhan.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has stated the truth. "This virus began in Wuhan, China," he said March 24 on "Washington Watch with Tony Perkins."
"Unfortunately, the Chinese Communist Party covered this up and delayed its response in a way that has truly put thousands of lives at risk," Pompeo said.
Since the first few Americans returned from Wuhan unwittingly carrying this virus, the situation has dramatically escalated. As of Tuesday, the CDC estimated there were 374,329 COVID-19 cases in the United States and 12,064 COVID-19 deaths.
"So," Pompeo told Perkins on March 24, "Every day that the Chinese Communist Party sat on this information and didn't do the right thing, and instead punished doctors who were attempting to alert the world about what was taking place there in Wuhan, increased the number of people who would be exposed, and thereby put all of us all around the world -- and the Chinese people as well -- put them at unnecessary risk, too."
There will come a day when we will go evaluate how the entire world responded," Pompeo said at a March 17 briefing.
When this pandemic has passed, every aspect of U.S. relations with China should be reevaluated and recalculated to do just one thing: put the American people first.
Earlier than even this New York Times report, Chuck Todd, host of NBC News's Meet the Press, on March 8 hailed China's supposed success in tackling the virus, asking whether the Chinese Communist Party's style of despotic governance deserves all the credit.
"How uncomfortable is it," Todd asked, echoing the sentiments of others in Western media, "that perhaps China's authoritarian ways did prevent this? Meaning, had China been a free and open society, this might have spread faster?"
The U.S. intelligence community determined last week that China has underreported both the total number of coronavirus cases and deaths, all of it in an attempt to conceal the full extent of the pandemic in its country.
Early on, China silenced doctors who raised alarms about the virus, denied access to foreign scientists who could have studied the virus, and falsely claimed that there was no evidence of human-to-human transmission.
NBC breathlessly reported, "As the U.S. struggles to stem coronavirus, China asserts itself as global leader" on efforts by China to provide help to other countries. But the reality is that China has delivered faulty equipment around the world. In the Netherlands, the health ministry recalled 600,000 Chinese manufactured face masks despite their desperate need for medical equipment after their filters did not work properly, and they did not fit. Spain purchased hundreds of thousands of tests from China, only to learn that at least 60,000 did not work.
The American press's readiness to treat reports out of Beijing with little, if any, skepticism comes as actual Chinese communist propaganda videos cite members of the free press in conjunction with its broader, hyperaggressive effort to avoid blame for creating the coronavirus pandemic.
Whether they know it or not, the journalists who claim it is problematic to refer to the virus by its country and city of origin, and the ones who claim China has the pandemic mostly under control, and who praise China's efforts to help other countries are doing the bidding of the Chinese Communist Party, which is eager both to present itself as the world's leading superpower and scrub from the record its culpability in the spread of the virus.
"I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore."
Remember that line from the famous American movie "Network"? It's time for a rebellion. Every out-of-work American and every out-of-business American business owner needs to open their windows and shout it, shout it so loud it reaches President Donald Trump, Congress and every swamp politician from Washington D.C., to New York to Boston to Beverly Hills, California.
It's time for this madness to stop. Mr. President, do you understand how many suicides of prominent business owners are going to start piling up?
Here in Las Vegas, a business owner closed his business, laid off his 45 employees (with tears in his eyes) and then went home and committed suicide. Did you see that in the news?
It's happening across America.
Do you understand the pain of the employees? People can't even get through to file for unemployment benefits. The websites have been down for days on end. No one answers the phones.
Do you understand how many lives are being ruined, how many jobs are being killed, how many great businesses will never reopen? The people are getting desperate and despondent. They have no money for food, rent, gas or survival.
We can't stay closed. We have to open up the U.S. economy. There is no more time for debate. There is no more room for caution. I have ideas and compromise below.
First, these coronavirus "death counts" have to stop. You're scaring people half to death. I suggest new kinds of death counts be put up on the screens to compete:
-- JOBS KILLED by this complete business shutdown.
-- BUSINESSES CLOSED.
-- AMERICAN DREAMS DESTROYED.
Another Great Depression will destroy this great nation. And we're on the way, unless you open this economy again.
And why not open America for business again -- with tight restrictions? What is happening now makes absolutely no sense. We are allowed to shop at big-box stores like Costco, Walmart and Home Depot; health food stores like Whole Foods and Sprouts; grocery stores; pet stores; auto part stores; pawn shops; marijuana stores; liquor stores; and gun stores. And get this: Golf courses are open.
If all of that is allowed, why can't we open all stores and businesses but with the same health precautions and restrictions?
I love and appreciate the UPS drivers and Costco cashiers on the front lines. But if they can work, why can't the rest of us? Do Costco checkout guys and gals and supermarket cashiers have a big S on their chest? If they can face it and survive, why can't the rest of us?
The liberal Democratic mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti, just recommended everyone wear masks and scarves. Isn't this the compromise to get us all back to work?
Here's the mantra for the day: Wear a mask. Get back to work!
We need to open the U.S. economy before it's too late, before we're all doomed -- not from coronavirus but from the fallout of a Great Depression. Here is the compromise. Here are the new rules.
Anyone who wants to stay home can. If you want to collect welfare, food stamps and unemployment, you can. Anyone at high risk -- seniors, the sick, the obese, those with illness -- should shelter at home.
But the rest of us (the working people of America) are willing to take the risk; to keep our businesses alive; to save jobs; to save the economy; to prevent a Great Depression; to prevent mass suicides, alcoholism, drug addiction, poverty and misery.
We can all work -- just like the Costco employees and supermarket cashiers and UPS drivers. We can all wear masks. Our customers can wear masks. We can all practice social distancing. Employees can stand 6 feet apart. Stores can limit customers. New customers can be allowed to only go in when others leave. We can sanitize our workplaces and stores like never before.
It's time to start organizing a mega call campaign to President Trump, Congress and local politicians across this country. It's time to tell them that the American people want to take precautions, that we'll accept restrictions but we need to get back to work. Or we're holding you accountable for ruining our jobs, careers, businesses, dreams, lives.
The pandemic is horrible. But we can't keep the economy closed. Your caution and fear are killing our lives more than any pandemic. The politicians are destroying America.
Shout it: "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!"
For a mid-week moment, it appeared Florida’s chief executive had accorded great regulatory and enforcement authority to local governments in issuing his statewide stay-at-home order.
Gov. Ron DeSantis’ decree allowed local governments to impose tighter restrictions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic than levied by the state, other than those stipulated in the order.
The executive order bucked a decades-long trend in state Republican leadership’s use of “predatory preemption” to whittle away at home rule across the regulatory landscape.
DeSantis cleared away any confusion such a thing was to occur in a Thursday amendment memo that declared his order “shall supersede any conflicting official action or order issued by local officials in response to COVID-19.”
The revised order reinterprets a line in the original decree allowing local governments to implement restrictive orders by erasing it.
Nevertheless, DeSantis assured reporters Thursday, the revised order ensures “the baseline” and local governments can impose stricter measures if they choose.
Local governments “can go beyond what I’ve done. What we’re doing is setting a floor,” he said. “And they can’t go below the floor.”
Except when it comes to religious services.
DeSantis’ order defines "religious services conducted in churches, synagogues and houses of worship" as “essential” and, therefore, preempts local restrictions on religious gatherings. The original did not do so.
“I don’t know that they would have the authority, quite frankly, to close a religious ... the Constitution doesn’t get suspended here. There’s got to be ways where you can accommodate,” DeSantis said.
The governor met with religious leaders and agreed “their work is important” and should be classified as “essential.”
“There is no reason why you can’t do a church service 6 feet apart,” he said. “In times like this, I think the service that they are performing is going to be very important to people, particularly coming up in the Easter season.”
Michigan, New Mexico, Delaware, Ohio, Texas and West Virginia are among states with stay-at-home exemptions for religious services.
Virginia and Maryland require places of worship to limit in-person services to fewer than 10 people, which is the same as President Donald Trump’s administration’s 30-day guidelines and DeSantis’ stay-at-home order – except, apparently, for religious services.
Local officials are on edge as some pastors, such as Brandon megachurch preacher Rodney Howard-Browne, threaten to defy stay-at-home orders to open their churches for services Easter Sunday, a little more than a week away.
The Evangelical pastor of The River at Tampa Bay Church was arrested on misdemeanor counts of unlawful assembly and violation of a county-wide order after he was warned to limit his congregation to fewer than 10 people in compliance with a county stay-at-home order.
Claiming the restriction violated his First Amendment rights, Howard-Browne staged two services Sunday at his megachurch south of Tampa, drawing up to 500 worshippers.
He has since hired Liberty Counsel attorney Mathew Staver. Staver represented Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis, who refused to issue marriage licenses to gay people in 2015.
In a live streamed call-in Thursday, Browne said he had closed the church “to protect the congregation, not from the virus, but from a tyrannical government."
He said the church would remain closed through Sunday, Palm Sunday, but did not dismiss hosting services on Easter Sunday on April 12.
"At this time, I have not made any decision about Easter Sunday or services thereafter," he said. "Adonica (his wife) and I are praying and seeking the Lord for wisdom. I will say, however, that the church cannot be closed indefinitely."