As we approach the third month of government-imposed restrictions put in place because of COVID-19, it is fair to review, question and comment on those restrictions.
I find it appalling that our governor continues with his draconian measures to keep us from worshiping according to our religious beliefs – from watching a child’s baseball game, from enjoying a meal at our favorite restaurant and on and on and on. It is well-past time to reopen Kentucky.
When the governor took the oath of office, he took an oath to uphold the Constitution. The first amendment of the United States Constitution includes the mandate that there be no laws prohibiting the free exercise of religion or the right to assemble. Section 1 of the Kentucky Constitution states among other things that we are free by nature and have rights, including the right of worshiping and the right to assemble together in a peaceable manner.
Neither of these great documents says “except in the case of an emergency declared by the governor.”
Yes, there have been – as I write this – 4,879 reported cases of COVID-19 and 248 deaths in Kentucky that have been attributed to COVID-19, but who knows how many of those deaths were actually caused by COVID-19? For example, if a person has a heart problem along with COVID-19 and dies of a heart attack, it’s listed as a COVID-19 death. If a person has cancer along with COVID-19 and dies from cancer, it’s listed as a COVID-19 death. If a person has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) along with COVID-19 and dies from lung damage, it’s listed as a COVID-19 death.
The last pandemic that originated in China was severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). It began in 2002 and is a viral respiratory illness also caused by a coronavirus, called SARS-associated coronavirus (SARS-CoV). According to the United States Center for Disease Control (CDC), due to lack of reporting by all Kentucky counties, there were a minimum of 4,273 cases of SARS and 135 SARS deaths in the commonwealth, and probably more of each. Were we required to quarantine, not travel out of state, limit one person per household in stores, not to have elective surgery, wear masks, not to be able to set foot at the state capitol (our house) or not attend worship services? No, of course not.
Yet that’s what has happened to us during this COVID-19 “crisis,” the latest virus from China. How did these oppressive regulations come to pass, why are they continuing, and most importantly, why are most Kentuckians staying silent about it? Is it fear? Quite possibly. We’ve been told by the “experts” both don’t wear a mask and wear a mask, or COVID-19 is no problem and COVID-19 will lead to hundreds of thousands of deaths in the United States. No wonder there is confusion and fear.
The models used by these “experts” have been wrong since day one. The only conclusion to be drawn is that the “experts” have either been lying to us or they don’t have a clue. Which one is worse is open to debate, but either leaves no choice but to doubt these “experts.” Now we’re told that if we don’t stay inside, keep socializing with friends and neighbors, go out to eat in public and simply shake hands, we will be responsible for more and more deaths.
We’re told that we must wait for a vaccine which might take two years to be developed and made available before we can get back to normal. Even then, we’re told it won’t be the normal we had a few months ago. A vaccine didn’t eliminate SARS-CoV; a vaccine was never developed for Ebola or AIDS, but we got back to normal without the inane rules handed down to us from “on high”.
The data clearly show that there is no more harm opening than there is in staying inside our houses worrying about what’s going to happen next. For years we’ve been told that fresh air and sunshine is good for us. Now we are supposed to believe that fresh air and sunshine will kill us.
The restrictions were supposed to “flatten the curve” and the curve has been flattened. We’re now told that if we open too quickly the result will be catastrophic. Let’s face it, no matter when we open, the curve still won’t be zero so opening now or opening later will have the same result.
Why then are restrictions being lifted at a snail’s pace? Why are industry groups and trade associations being told to communicate with and gather input from their membership to develop and then submit to the state proposals for reopening? Why must 10 rules be met for reopening Kentucky? Is it because once power is exercised it is difficult to give up? The president issued suggested guidelines for reopening, and although they seem over the top, they were merely suggestions, not decrees. Closing the commonwealth and keeping it closed is the governor’s choice and I don’t understand why we are sitting idly by and not demanding our constitutional rights.
Allowing pet grooming shops to open but keeping barbershops closed is folly. Allowing construction to begin but demanding that we wear a mask in public is rubbish. Allowing hardware stores to remain open but not allowing elective surgery is ridiculous. Allowing auto dealerships to open but keeping churches closed is nonsensical.
An emergency declaration by the governor doesn’t supersede our God-given and constitutional rights. I’m disappointed that ministers and church leaders (with few exceptions) have not vehemently protested the governor’s shutdown of houses of worship. I’m disappointed that there hasn’t been a huge public outcry over the closing of the state capitol. It’s beginning to look like we’re operating in the same manner that China operates – the leader dictates and the people acquiesce. We’re not China; let’s not act like China.
It’s time to reopen Kentucky, past time actually.
Rep. Lynn Bechler, R-Marion, represents the 4th district. The opinions expressed here are those of the author.