Written by Nicholas Vetrisek
After record unemployment numbers and a collapse of the greatest economy in California history, the governor has decided to allow hair salons, barbers, restaurants, stores, and churches in 48 of the state’s 58 counties, with restrictions.
Many epidemiologists and experts are claiming that the situation will get worse and it will lead to a second wave of the virus. So far, however, this has not been the case. While cases have increased in the two weeks after the opening compared to the two weeks before, Robert Kim-Farley at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health and Andrew Noymer of UC Irvine essentially say that the results so far are inconclusive and the third and fourth weeks would create a more accurate representation of the effects of the policy, given that the coronavirus sometimes has a hidden gestation period of up to two weeks.
On the other hand, the 22 counties that opened first have had much fewer casualties than the 26 other counties opened later. The difference being eight new cases per 100,000 residents in the former from May 11 to May 25, compared to 72 new cases per 100,000 residents elsewhere. Critics may argue that this is because the counties that opened first had much fewer cases, but that is precisely the point. The coronavirus problem is very nuanced and a blanket stay-at-home order tanks the entire state’s economy while only a small portion of California is affected by the virus.
This is the reason why the stay-at-home order must be lifted and the power to shut down the counties should be delegated to the counties themselves. While places like Los Angeles County are being hit hard by the virus, that should not mean that the entirety of Northern California, an area almost completely unaffected, ought to be subject to the same restrictions. Giving the power to counties or potentially even cities within the counties would mean that areas minimally or not at all affected by the coronavirus don’t have to be dragged down economically by areas that have been devastated by it.
Decentralized command that gives authority to local leaders familiar with their own area’s situation is the ideal way to combat the virus and economic impact resulting from it. It’s the best way to minimize the potential health costs while ensuring that people don’t have to lose their jobs and businesses just because they share a state with a community suffering from the virus.