Ed Achorn posted a striking chart on his Facebook page showing that, as an independent entity, Rhode Island has one of the highest per capita COVID-19 fatality rates in the world:
The only possible response is that Rhode Island’s experience would have been even worse had Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo not responded as she did (and had not the rest of Rhode Island’s civic society, from the General Assembly to the media, lay prostrate on the ground to allow it). Naturally, disputing a counterfactual is extremely difficult. Had the governor chosen a different course everything would have been different, and estimating the effects of changing everything is an insurmountable challenge.
Still, as we move into the second half of a year under the governor’s enhanced regime, as she continues to claim emergency power based on a virus with which a small number of Rhode Islanders are currently infected and with a minuscule fatality rate for most of the population, we need to regain our capacity to question authority. A brief upset of the economy and our way of life might be justified as a matter of caution, but months upon months cuts deep and changes things fundamentally.
One needn’t look hard for evidence (albeit anecdotal) in our massive social experiment. For instance, this spring, the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado was forced to ease social distancing rules for cadets after two near-graduation seniors committed suicide:
Cadets will be allowed to leave the campus for drive-thru food, get a casual Friday during which they can wear civilian clothing and may congregate in small groups while following state guidelines.
Also rescinded are long “tours” of marching practice for cadets who don’t stay 6 feet away from their classmates.
“No one is being punished for social distancing violations. Be smart!” Silveria said in an email.
Alcohol, while still forbidden in dorms and vehicles, will be allowed elsewhere on the 18,500-acre campus — and the academy staff was encouraged to bring their dogs to work.
“Dogs are mission-essential and allowed any time,” the general said.
The policy changes came after the senior class remained on campus, spread out across emptied dorms, and ordered to stay separated from one another while taking online classes and eating takeout meals.
Yet, under instruction (and apparent threat of closure) from the Raimondo administration, Providence College is still isolating any students who come in contact with others who test positive in hotel-room lock-downs, with allowance of one-hour outdoor time per day in a courtyard, for two weeks.
Meanwhile, Raimondo is out there claiming credit for a decree that Halloween will happen. For college students, however, she’s in full dictatorial scold mode:
She warned college students not to hold Halloween house parties, saying, “Don’t do it. Don’t even try it. We will bust your party. We will fine everybody 500 bucks. Don’t even think about it.”
We can argue how much the fear of some Rhode Islanders gives them the power, through their approved dictator, to violate the civil rights of others, but this attitude will have consequences, as it did at the Air Force Academy. If we continue to accept the governor’s proclamations passively, or even with support, part of the blame falls on us for our silence.
Of the following two issues related to Rhode Island’s public schools, which one is a greater concern?