Our own private Wuhan

New York City and environs present as our own version of Wuhan. It is a public health dystopia. I was encouraged on Saturday when President Trump stated that he was considering a quarantine on New York, New Jersey, and parts of Connecticut. It sounded like a good idea to me. I thought it made perfect sense.

What is the argument against it? According to the Wall Street Journal, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo decried the quarantine idea a “declaration of war on states” that would crash financial markets and result in legal challenges. “A lockdown is what they did in Wuhan, China, and we’re not in China,” Cuomo said on CNN Saturday evening.

What is he talking about? I’m not entirely sure. I take it as an allusion to the American constitutional regime versus the Chinese Communist regime. The argument needs to be fleshed out, but Cuomo obviously prefers to shut down the discussion, or the thought underlying it.

To the extent that an argument underlies Cuomo’s comment, Cuomo must believe that a quarantine would be unconstitutional. Andrew McCarthy usefully addresses the legal issues in the NR column “Does President Trump Have the Power to Issue a Quarantine Order?” The Journal quotes legal experts on both sides of the question. I’m with Andrew McCarthy; I think the president has the authority to order a quarantine under the circumstances.

President Trump climbed down from the idea of a quarantine on Saturday night. Apparently in lieu of a presidential quarantine order, the CDC issued a travel advisory on Saturday urging residents of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut to “refrain from non-essential domestic travel” for 14 days, effective immediately. I take it that President Trump assessed the costs versus the benefits (including the political element of each) in coming down against a quarantine.

What is to be done? I wonder if a more limited kind of quarantine might not make sense. We are in lockdown in Minnesota. As of this moment, the state’s data attribute 9 deaths and 39 hospitalized as a result of the virus. We are told that we are early in the curve that will result in a death spiral. Why hasn’t the governor called on the airlines to limit air travel from New York to Minneapolis? There is no harm in asking and it would draw attention to the public health hazard that New York presents to those of us in flyover country.

The problem with shutting down discussion is that it prevents us from developing our own informed assessment of the costs versus the benefits of the options before us. The impetus to shut down discussion courses in the veins of the White House reporters and the rest of the mainstream media. We can see it every day in the White House task force briefings and in the media organs that empower Andrew Cuomo and his like with their support. They really don’t want us to be in a position to make up our own minds and do something about it.

The graph below (via Erick Erickson) is a few days old, but it raises the question. What is to be done, or what else is to be done?

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