As capacity crowds gathered to watch the mid-summer Major League Baseball All-Star game, we were reminded that the summer respite from the COVID-19 pandemic is surely welcome.
ut as Broadway gears up productions for reopening, storm clouds are beginning to form on the distant horizon. The long-term forecast this coming fall and winter calls for increasing chance of variants, vaccines, and lockdowns. Australia and other nations in the southern hemisphere have already witnessed the return of the pandemic scourge during their current winter season, which is predicted to head our way next. But there is a simple way to evade collateral damage as the nth wave of the pandemic howls over us like gales in a hurricane: just cease calling it an emergency.
The COVID-19 pandemic was declared an emergency by World Health Organization on March 11, 2020 when the WHO Director-General said, “I remind all countries that we are calling on you to activate and scale up your emergency response mechanisms.” WHO Director-General’s opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 – 11 March 2020.
Emergency response mechanisms include granting authoritative powers to local officials to implement and enforce lockdowns and other mitigation measures. In general, legislatures have willingly conceded this power to the executive branch of governments to facilitate an emergency response. But who (not WHO) gets to determine what is an emergency? At the urging of their constituents, it’s time for legislators to take an active role and declare, “Not so fast!” You can have your never-ending pandemic, but just don’t call it an emergency.
Back in March 2020, no one knew much about the risks of COVID-19 infection as well as the collateral damage from severe mitigation measures. Going forward, the now known risks and benefits of lockdowns and other mitigation measures need to be openly debated by elected legislators. There is no longer an excuse to continue to grant unconditional executive power to authorities to declare an emergency response for what was once a novel disease with unknown lethality and prevalence.
Yes, there is still plenty more to learn about COVID-19, but certainly whether or not we are past the emergency phase is worthy of public debate. In the meantime, the public has a right to continue to vaccinate and treat themselves with Ivermectin as much as they like, pandemic or no pandemic, emergency or not.
Ah, the good old days, when we had pandemics without people even noticing them! You may not notice an ambulance coming down the street with its lights and siren turned off, but during an emergency, those flashing lights and sirens are designed to attract your attention. It’s time to turn off the sirens and flashing lights of the COVID-19 pandemic.