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Andrew Cuomo said something very important yesterday. Why aren't more people listening?

Op-ed

'If you rethought that or had time to analyze that public health strategy, I don't know that you would say quarantine everyone'

Photo by Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has been widely praised across the political spectrum for his handling of the coronavirus crisis.

Democrats have been so impressed by his management of an admittedly difficult situation that prominent Democrats have groused behind the scenes about the possibility of replacing Joe Biden at the top of the 2020 ticket with Cuomo, in the event of a brokered convention. Even many Republicans, while criticizing some of his particular decisions, have been broadly supportive of Cuomo's leadership of New York specifically as it pertains to this pandemic.

Which is why Cuomo's surprisingly frank comments at Thursday's press briefing — during which he effectively admitted that locking down every business in the state was probably a mistake, even from a public health perspective — should have resounded like a thunderclap across the media landscape.

Consider it: The most prominent governor in America, who sits at the epicenter of the biggest news story of the decade (at least), openly questioned the wisdom of measures we have all been hysterically assured are 100% necessary to avoid the end of the world as we know it. And, although Cuomo is a partisan opponent of the president, he also echoed Trump's widely vilified mantra: We need to get people back to work as soon as possible.

During the course of the furious public debate over the proper response to COVID-19, a lot of straw men have been annihilated by the combatants on both sides. One of the most frequent assertions is that skeptics of the current "lock everyone in their homes" response would favor doing nothing.

As far as I'm aware, literally no one has advocated that the government should have done nothing in response to coronavirus and just let the disease run its course. Many people, however, have questioned whether what is being done is either wise or necessary.

It's an important question that should have perhaps been asked before the entire world plunged itself into an almost-certain depression by shutting almost every commerce-generating entity down and effectively locking people in their houses. But anyone who asked it was condemned as someone who wanted senior citizens to die just so they could enjoy their flat screen televisions.

Perhaps the most common form of fallacious thinking is the belief that when a situation calls for something to be done, then literally anything you might do must be better than doing nothing. And so, whenever any sort of potential emergency arises, we as a people often charge headlong into foolish courses of action in the name of "SOMETHING MUST BE DONE RIGHT AWAY" without adequate (or often, any) consideration of the possible consequences of doing this particular something. Anyone who asks, "might something else be done?" is branded as insensitive to the dangers of the moment.

And so, when the face of the supposedly competent response to coronavirus crisis stepped to the podium Thursday and frankly said, "If you rethought that or had time to analyze that public health strategy, I don't know that you would say quarantine everyone," the people who are insisting that "quarantine everyone" must continue to be done for an indefinite period of time might have been expected to at least notice, if only to criticize Cuomo for having said it.

When Cuomo continued to specifically question the wisdom of having "closed everything down ... all businesses, old workers, young people, old people, short people, tall people. Every school closed, everything[,]" we might have expected at least some discussion about whether state and local governments should continue to roll out these policies, even in rural areas, if even the friggin' governor of New York is now admitting that they might have made a huge mistake.

Instead, CNN (who employs Cuomo's brother as one of their biggest on-air personalities) appears to have literally not covered Cuomo's remarks on their website. They did, however, prominently feature this important video of Chris Cuomo telling his brother that he had "banana hands." I also could not find a single mention of the remarks on MSNBC's website.

The threat posed by the coronavirus clearly merited some sort of urgent response. Even if the coronavirus turns out to be roughly as deadly as the flu, it would be like a strain of the flu for which there is no vaccine and which is clearly much more contagious than the flu. The reason the flu isn't an annual public health crisis is because there's not a genuine threat that almost half of America might get the flu in the same year. If they did, that would likewise threaten to overwhelm the American health care system, as coronavirus does.

Just because something ought to have been done, however, it does not follow that this is that thing. And if the governor at what is rapidly becoming the global epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak is now questioning the wisdom of the policy now being blindly implemented around the world, isn't that relevant to the people of Nebraska, Utah, and Tennessee who are currently having those policies forced upon them with galling tyranny by a suddenly omnipresent police state?

Based on the largely silent response, the answer is no, and we should expect to continue to happily remain locked in our homes indefinitely without questioning the wisdom of these policies ourselves.

Something, after all, must be done.

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