Click on the arrow below to listen to this story
As the news media continues to whip people into frenzied masses and force governments into imposing irrational responses to the COVID-19 panic, here are some of the more extreme examples of how American liberties are being chipped away all in the name of promoting “safety.”
For the week of April 12 -18, 2020: (click on headlines for full story)
Although self-propelled boats are still okay, motorboats, jet skis and other motorized watercraft are not considered permissible outdoor activities under Michigan’s revised stay-at-home order in effect through April 30. Also, people who are not part of a single household are not allowed to boat together under the provision that prevents gatherings, even if one person remains in front of the boat and the other in the rear.
The small group of volunteers at a Ford factory in Plymouth, Michigan, are trying out wristbands that vibrate when employees come within six feet of each another, said Kelli Felker, a company spokeswoman. The aim is to keep workers from breaching the distance that health experts recommend to avoid spreading the coronavirus. The automaker is also expected to subject all workers entering a facility to a thermal-imaging scan to detect a fever. And it will provide staff with masks and, in some cases, plastic face shields, Felker said.
The mayor of Little Rock, Ark., suburb was upset when he learned that “groups” were still gathering at city parks, so he ordered all the basketball rims removed. That even applied to the park across the street from a 12-year-old girl whose parents had paid for the net and work to maintain the basketball court so she could play by herself. City residents are also asking the mayor to also impose a curfew during public school hours and during the evening in order to force children inside while schools are closed.
The Calvert County Health Department announced the guidance on Wednesday, asking residents to “voluntarily limit trips for groceries to once every five days,” before providing a list of suggested shopping dates corresponding to last names. The goal was to limit “chronic overcrowding at grocery and convenience stores.
Because people were still using a skatepark in San Clemente, Calif., officials dumped 37 tons of sand in the privately-funded recreation area to discourage use. As a result, several other California communities followed suit by turning the skatepark into an inland beach.
A family in Alabama said they were denied entry to a storm shelter on Easter Sunday during a severe storm because they didn’t have enough face masks during the coronavirus panic. More than 30 people were killed in a two-day period as severe storms tore across the South, leaving 1 million homes without power. In response, Crossville Mayor Tera Fortenberry said everyone entering a shelter must have a mask, but gloves were optional.
Multiple mothers have had their children taken away from them as a direct result of working in the medical profession during the Coronavirus outbreak. A Florida doctor was stripped of joint custody of her 4-year-old daughter. An Oklahoma medical worker had all her children removed because she works in a clinic and MIGHT have contact with a COVID-19 patient. Child protective workers cut off visitations with their 20-month old daughter, with one worker claiming all visits with children in care of Child Protective Services are terminated until further notice.
A 13-year-old boy who was proclaimed to be the “youngest patient in the United Kingdom to die from COVID-19,” has been dead since 2017. His photo has been used to report deaths in three countries since his accidental suicide three years ago. The most recent post has been shared more than 100 times on Facebook with the caption, “Schoolboy, 13, with no health conditions becomes UK’s youngest coronavirus victim.”
Several states are seeking help from nonprofits, universities and the private sector to develop plans to test aggressively and track potentially infected people. Massachusetts, Utah and North Dakota are among those working on those kind of comprehensive strategies. Not surprisingly, the ability to track people would create jobs, with one estimate that Massachusetts could hire 50,000 people to learn who has had contact with whom around the state.
CryoChoice has seen sales jump by as much as 20 percent in recent weeks. Staff at the at-home sperm collection start-up Legacy claim they’ve seen up to 10 times their usual order volume in recent days. And the minds behind Dadi, another start-up in the field, say they have not only seen a threefold lift in raw sales, but that more people than ever before are buying five years of sperm storage up front.
California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Commissioner Lara (D) ordered auto insurers to make an initial premium refund for the months of March and April to all adversely impacted California policyholders in the following lines of insurance, as quickly as practicable, but in any event no later than 120 days. Lara will issue separate guidance regarding potential refunds of May premiums. Let’s hope none of the policy holders have a tree fall on their vehicles during this time, nor that they have an accident seeking essential supplies.
World Wrestling Entertainment has been deemed an “essential business” in Florida, allowing the company to resume live taping of its shows in the state during the COVID-19 panic. Apparently after conversations between Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) and Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings (D), wrestling was deemed an essential business and allowed to remain open. At least it was a bipartisan agreement.
The Raleigh, N.C., Police Department is facing scrutiny after arresting protesters in downtown Raleigh on Tuesday, asserting that such activity is in violation of the governor’s executive order limiting outdoor activities amid the coronavirus panic. “What part of the governor’s order was violated here?” one social media user asked. “Protesting is a non-essential activity,” the police department responded.
Valley County is mandating that people wear government-issued pink arm bands in order to purchase products inside of stores. The measure, enforced by the Valley County Health Department, insists that store-owners keep customers out unless they have the pink arm-bands, which denote the customer has been in the area more than 14 days and submitted to quarantine protocol. Out-of-towners who lack the government-issued armbands will be prohibited from stores, and residents are required to call law enforcement if they do not comply.
Some degree of social distancing may still be needed in the United States until 2022 to prevent large outbreaks of coronavirus, according to a group of Harvard disease experts. Researchers from Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health made the unsettling prediction Tuesday in the journal Science. Yet, the same researchers noted, “The social distancing was so effective that virtually no population immunity was built.”
Government silliness isn’t limited to the United States, as these reports from other countries confirm:
Foreigners who broke a COVID-19 lockdown in an Indian town made famous by the Beatles, were forced to repent by writing “I am so sorry” — 500 times. A nationwide lockdown was imposed near the end of March, with residents permitted to leave their homes only for essential services such as buying groceries and medicine. More than 700 foreign tourists from the United States, Australia, Mexico and Israel staying in the area had flouted the lockdown rules and adding the unusual punishment was handed out to teach them a lesson. Police said they would direct hotels in the area to allow foreign guests to step out only if accompanied by local helpers, i.e.: spies.
On April 10, Todd Nelson took his sons Liam, Brandon and Dustin to the parking lot of Glen Abbey Community Centre to go rollerblading, he said — but after about 45 minutes, a bylaw officer pulled up and told them they had to go. When the father asked why, he was issued a $880 citation for violating the emergency order issued by the Ontario government that closed outdoor recreation areas to curb the spread of COVID-19.
While leaders around the world fight the spread of the coronavirus, they’re amassing sweeping new powers. As legislatures limit or suspend activities in the name of social distancing, many of the norms that define democracy – elections, deliberation and debate, checks and balances – have been put on indefinite hold, the Stamford Advocate reports.
The speed and breadth of the transformation is unsettling political scientists, government watchdogs and rights groups. Many concede that emergency declarations and streamlining government decision-making are necessary responses to a global health threat. But they question how readily leaders will give up the powers they’ve accrued when the coronavirus eventually subsides.
A region in Italy has drawn up plans for tourists to use “plexiglass boxes” while relaxing on the beach to reduce the spread of coronavirus. The two metre high walls would be 4.5m wide, with people on the beach made to sit inside them when visiting.
With coronavirus having emptied out zoos in Germany, the owner of one has suggested that she may have to resort to feeding some animals to the others in order to stay financially afloat. “We’ve listed the animals we’ll have to slaughter first,” Neumünster Zoo’s Verena Kaspari told Die Welt, as translated by BBC News.
Virus numbers as of 9:30 p.m. Central on April 18, 2020
Confirmed cases in the United States = 734,552
Percent of population infected = 0.224%
COVID-related deaths in the United States = 38,835
Percent of population killed = 0.000118%
Confirmed cases worldwide = 2,328,124
Percent of population infected = 0.031%
COVID-related deaths worldwide = 160,518
Percent of population killed = 0.00214%
Infected in the United States = 45,000,000
Hospitalized = 810,000
Died = 61,000
Restrictions in place: None