Seven Months in, No Governor in Sight
I have been very critical of Governor Sisolak over these pas many months for his reaction to and navigation of the COVID-19 pandemic. I would like to reiterate that throughout, my concerns have been in has lack of leadership, transparency, and consistency. Sadly, despite his expressed concerns towards these matters and his apologies, there has been precious little change in his approach and results.
Today marks the seventh month of our pandemic journey. To date, we have no clear understanding of what specific goal posts are, from where he draws his authority to perform his unprecedented power-grab, and what comes next.
When this journey began, the cry was “flatten the curve”. I, like many, supported this battle cry. Without information or clear understanding as to this virus, not overwhelming our care workers and first responders was prudent. In those early days, we, as a society, did not know if the virus could dwell on surfaces, if it was airborne, nor how long the virus could survive outside a host. We did not know the mortality rate. We did not know the transmission rate. All we saw were the horrors of what was unfolding in China, Italy, Spain, Germany, and many, many more.
Now, two hundred ten days later, we know much, much more. We have treatments available. We have numerous possible vaccines in clinical trials. We understand that the virus is in fact airborne, and hardly survives when on surfaces. The nation has, as always, adapted, improvised, and overcome. Most importantly, the curve has been flattened.
Many detractors will dispute this last point. Pointing to the “new infection rate”, detractors will state that there have been numerous spikes since March. Let me reaffirm my position that addressing policy decisions on this incomplete number is disingenuous at best. The reality is that we do not know the total number of COVID-19 infections anymore than we know the total number of infections of any disease. Infection detections relies on testing. To know the absolute number, we would need to test the entire population of the nation on a daily basis. Our morning routine would now consist of: wake up, shower, brush teeth, stick a swab up your nose, ship the swab to the local hospital, eat breakfast, go to work.
What we know with certainty, however, is the hospitalization rate due to COVID as well as the death rate due to COVID. Both of these items can clearly be quantified. In the case of hospitalizations, people grave enough to require hospitalization can be tested, cataloged, and quantified. In the case of deaths, this is also possible. In the case of hospitalizations, we have seen a constant decline since early August. In the case of death, a steady decline since April. According to the Governor’s own dashboard, we have seen the originally called for “flattening of the curve”. Why then the continued lockdown, restrictions, and misery?
I am an engineer by trade. I have built my career around building response around the best available data and applying that data to the prescribed goals and objectives. Having seen many circumstances where data requires addressing a change in target goals, I would support an open of any such discussion points. Again, however, the Governor has never presented such data. Governor Sisolak has simply admonished any requests for his presentation of facts and decision criteria as death mongering. But still, the lockdowns, unemployment, misery, and disruption continue. Kids and elderly alike are terrified, and everyone in between is trying their level best to keep their multi-generational households afloat. All the while, the Governor refuses to provide answers… only dictums and mandates.
So here we stand, seven months after the beginning of this pandemic and unmitigated leadership disaster of leadership. We have unprecedented levels of upheaval in business, family life, our economy, education, and church. In short, we no longer live in a Nevada we would have recognized 12 months ago. “Flatten the curve” has been replaced with some expectation similar to NDOT’s “Zero Fatalities” expectation. All the while, we watch the next generation whither on the vine. High School Athletics, an avenue to social inclusion and college education, has ground to a halt, and the Governor has refused to take a stand. Economic opportunities have been ripped out of the hands of hundreds of thousands of Nevadans, and the Governor has refused to act. Our state cries out for leadership, and the Governor hides in the mansion.
Should those with pre-existing conditions be cared for and protected? Absolutely. Should we move heaven and earth to protect the elderly throughout our state? Undoubtedly. Does a single mother with three kids have the right to pursue gainful employment to ensure the safety and security of her kids? Without a doubt. Surely, a state in a nation as sophisticated as ours can find a more directed solution than the wholesale destruction of our way of life. Surely, the Governor has surrounded himself advisors who can provide better options than “nope… shut it all down, forever.” Right?
As October melts into November, 2020 melts into the distance, and the promises of old melt into memory, do not let the Governor’s failures melt from your thoughts.