Blind obedience to the government has never been an American virtue

Every time I see large groups of individuals gather to protest the draconian restrictions many governors have placed on their citizens I am happy.  I am also relieved to know that decades of progressive indoctrination has not squashed this in everyone, even though educators and the media have made great inroads.  Far too many have blindly accepted the trampling of their rights and far too many oppose the efforts of their liberty minded friends.  Of course the liberal media has done an excellent job vilifying those who demand a return to the good old days when freedom and liberty were the only normal we accepted.

I am extremely happy and relieved that the mass protests have not resulted in spikes in   virus cases.  It it did happen I know the media would have trumpeted that news loudly. 

When researching last week’s article I came across the perfect example of the type of liberal indoctrination that takes place.  This example was this definition of the rule of law I found on the Merriam Webster Dictionary “a situation in which the laws of a country are obeyed by everyone.”  When I saw the definition I was angered because it goes against so many important principles that are at the core of our great republic.  These principles have been core principles since the first sparks of the American Revolution began.

There is nothing more American than taking a stand against unjust laws.  That notion was at the very heart of the American Revolution.  Thomas Jefferson immortalized this principle when he wrote this in a letter to James Madison:

I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical. Unsuccesful rebellions indeed generally establish the incroachments on the rights of the people which have produced them. An observation of this truth should render honest republican governors so mild in their punishment of rebellions, as not to discourage them too much. It is a medecine necessary for the sound health of government.

I want to make it clear that I am in no way advocating armed rebellion now or ever.  Nonviolent civil disobedience has always proved to be far more effective.  I am extremely grateful that we have the Second Amendment to protect our God-given natural right to bear arms which is our ultimate defense against a tyrannical government.

We must only accept laws that are just. If they are not we must speak out and protest.  Questioning unjust laws does not mean we do not value the rule of law, it means we properly understand it is a two way street. 

For the rule of law to apply the laws must also be passed by those who have the true authority to pass such laws.  Governors issuing stay at home orders and lockdowns most likely do not have the proper authority under the state constitutions therefore they are not valid laws.

The US Constitution is the supreme law of the land in the United States.  Laws that violate the Constitution are not valid therefore the rule of law does not apply.  We should protest unconstitutional laws more readily.

Many states, including Massachusetts, are way too slow with their reopening process even though the curve of the Coronavirus has trended downward and not just flattened. I am hoping the protests soon kick into high gear.

My wife and daughter escaped the Illinois lockdown and traveled to Wisconsin

By John Ruberry

As I wrote a couple of posts back the unemployment rate is 67 percent in the Marathon Pundit home here in suburban Chicago. Because of the COVID-19 epidemic, they were furloughed from their jobs.

Obviously in possession of free time Mrs. Marathon Pundit and Little Marathon Pundit decided to travel on this holiday weekend–they headed to Wisconsin. I stayed here to work.

Illinois, run by a Democrat from Chicago, J.B. Pritzker, remains under lockdown. You cannot enter supermarkets or any store with out a mask. Up in Wisconsin, its state Supreme Court struck down its shelter-in-place order made by its Democratic governor, Tony Evers. And its mask requirements.

Wisconsin is a free state. Illinois is a lockdown state. It’s that simple. My wife and daughter’s money is being spent not her3 but north of the Cheese Curtain. In a way they remind me of Poles in the last years of the Cold War visiting West Germany.

Illinois, according to WalletHub, has the most restrictive COVID-19 restrictions in the nation.

I just got off the phone with Mrs. MP. She enthusiastically told me about her first dine-in restaurant experience in two months. The restaurants in Illinois that are open are open for take-out only. On Friday outdoor dining will be allowed in the Prairie State. What if it rains? What if these diners aren’t equipped for al fresco serving? What if they don’t have the necessary permits? What if the restaurant owners can’t apply for an outdoor dining permit because their village hall is closed because of the coronavirus lockdown? Thanks for next-to-nothing, Pritzker.

Then my wife told me about their arrival yesterday in the small town of Mineral Point in the southwestern part America’s Dairyland. There was–wait for it–a parade! One for recent high school graduates. While the graduation ceremony was cancelled, grads in Mineral Point received their moment of glory on the streets. As far as I can gather all parades scheduled in Illinois in spring or early summer were cancelled. “A few people wore masks,” she told me of the people participating or viewing the parade, “but most didn’t.” Some stores are open–mostly the locally-owned ones as opposed to the big chains. “When you go in those places, you don’t have to wear masks,” she enthused.

My wife and daughter went inside, yes inside, a coffee shop, and drank coffee, although a sign outside of that establishment said, “Masks are recommended.” But masks weren’t even recommended when they entered an ice cream parlor.

Many other Illinoisans have escaped to Wisconsin too. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel spoke to one refugee from the Pritzker Lockdown who journeyed to Lake Geneva. “‘All for it,” said Dave Gragnani of McHenry, Illinois, who said he planned to visit a coffee shop and skatepark without any mask or hand sanitizer. “People should have a choice. I’m having a wonderful time.'”

Good for you, Dave!

As the saying goes, “You don’t know what you have until it’s gone.”

Not as much as Wisconsin, but Indiana is opening up too. And of course the welcome mat is open there for Illinoisans fed up with the lockdown. I’m sure Iowa, where my family traveled last month, as well as Missouri and Kentucky, the other states that border Illinois, are enjoying an influx of cash-flush Illinoisans.

Yes, I’m aware that nearly 100,000 people have died of the coronavirus in the United States, although nearly every one of them already had serious health problems. Nursing homes, hospitals, and senior centers need extra protection. 

It’s time to open up the rest of America. And the world. 

Dennis Prager earlier this month wrote that the worldwide COVD-19 lockdown might be biggest mistake in history

John Ruberry regularly writes at Marathon Pundit.

Jackson’s Party Trumps His Faith

Old News

by baldilocks

24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:

25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

— Hebrews 10:24-25

The Reverend [sic] Jesse Jackson has other ideas.

Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. is calling on people, especially religious leaders, not to follow through on President Donald Trump’s demand [sic] for churches and houses of worship to start reopening over Memorial Day weekend.

“To go to church or Sunday mass is an act of defiance, not an act of worship,” Jackson told WTOP’s Ken Duffy.

Trump on Friday asked governors to allow the reopening of places of worship, calling them “essential” and to “open them right now.”

The president also threatened state leaders that if they don’t follow through on his demand, he will “override the governors.”

Jackson, founder of the civil rights nonprofit Rainbow/PUSH coalition, believes that attendees who want to go out and worship should stay home until the threat of COVID-19 is over.

Jackson called on religious leaders and worshippers to “lead the way” and continue to obey coronavirus restrictions and social distancing measures.

“The virus does not have religion,” Jackson said. “It has no regard for your situation.”

First of all, the president isn’t giving orders to houses of worship. He is demanding that governors cease from standing in the way of corporate worship and that they come into alignment with the First Amendment of the US Constitution.

And, as mentioned in the Book of Hebrews, part of the free exercise of Christianity involves the assembling together of the faithful. This is simple.

Some questions I would ask Jackson if I thought he had a brain cell in his head that wasn’t devoted to enriching himself.

Do you believe that the God of the Bible is all powerful?
Do you believe that He is a healer and a protector if we ask it of him?
Do you believe the God rewards obedience to His Word?
Do you believe that God is more powerful than viruses?
What makes defiance and worship mutually exclusive?
If your governor outlawed Christianity, would you stop being a Christian?

I could go on, but my point is that Jackson is not a man of the Christian cloth and hasn’t been for a very long time – if he ever was one.

He’s just following orders dispensed from his Organized Left Puppet Masters.

Me in 2015:

Martin Luther King, Jr. was the prototype for the Black Leader concept, though not an epitome of it; other actual black leaders like Harriet Tubman or Marcus Garvey or Malcolm X were leaders organic to black populations/communities.

MLK certainly had rhetorical and financial support from outside of his community, but he didn’t start out that way.

(snip)

[T]he two nationally most well-known Black LeadersTM in this country are the Reverends [sic] Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton and I contend that both are created personae, totally supported and publicized by the Organized Left.

A better label for the two? Community Organizers. You’ve heard of those before, have you not?

Also me a year earlier:

Sharpton has been a hilariously awful commentator for MSNBC for a bit. But even before that, MSNBC, CNN and even Fox News had been sticking microphones under him and other “civil rights leaders” as the go-to guys–and sometimes girls–as if they were the go-betweens for “the black community” and the rest of America.

“Civil rights leaders” almost never just spontaneously come to the fore anymore; they are created. The rise in the fortunes — literally and figuratively — of Sharpton should be proof of this. (And, as it turns out, Sharpton has always hidden backers.)

Even the concept of a civil rights leader is a created one. But, ‘agitator’ is better because it is more descriptive. The word makes me think of that part inside your washing machine — the constant spinning and the noise-making. And that’s where the comparison ends.

No one will be made clean by these men.

There have always been fake pastors, but Jackson is the modern American forerunner — and Sharpton is his “son” — selling fear instead of faith. But he’s old now and irrelevant.

Beware of the fear-pastors who are not so old.

Go to church/synagogue/mosque. Or don’t. But it is not your governor’s place to keep you from it. Don’t forget that.

Get some free exercise.

(Thanks to “Carlos Osweda.”)

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng has been blogging since 2003 as baldilocks. Her older blog is here.  She published her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game in 2012.

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Coronavirus lockdowns violate the US Constitution and the Rule of Law

Thanks to our abysmal educational system most of us do not have a proper understanding of the US Constitution, mostly in regards to the relationship between the federal government and states. Under the original understanding of the Constitution the States are mostly independent nations held together by a weak federal government.  That has not changed, only our elected officials have ignored the original meaning. 

The US Constitution as originally ratified only restrained the states in a few key areas, all of which are listed in Article 1 Section 10.  It was very difficult for state laws to violate the US Constitution.   We have been conditioned to mistakenly believe the Supreme Court has the authority overturn state laws and state laws do regularly violate the US Constitution. 

If it was not for the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment the state Coronavirus lockdowns and other actions would not violate the US Constitution.  Here are the clauses of that amendment which are violated by the state lockdowns.

No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor to deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

The shelter in place orders and similar lockdown orders deprive a large percentage of the inhabitants of the states of their liberty.  Liberty is the freedom to do as you please as long as you don’t hurt anyone.  A state or local government can only deprive an individual of their liberty if that individual has been found guilty in a court of law. There are no exceptions for emergencies.  Forcing stores to close also violates the liberty of the owners and workers of the stores.

Labeling certain individuals as essential and others not essential workers and allowing them to travel based on that classification violates the equal protection clause.  Closing only certain stores also violates the equal protection clause.

According the Section Five of the Fourteenth Amendment the US congress through the formal legislative process not the Supreme Court has the authority to overturn state laws that violate that amendment.  That was done in response to the Dred Scott Case.

Lockdowns violate the Rule of Law.  This concept is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as:

The restriction of the arbitrary exercise of power by subordinating it to well-defined and established laws

These lockdowns are arbitrary rules made up by governors.  They apply only to certain individuals.  They are not well thought out and do tremendous harm.  They are unjust rules.

Be careful which dictionary you use, some are deeply erroneous.  Here is how the Merriam Webster dictionary defines the Rule of Law “a situation in which the laws of a country are obeyed by everyone.” For the Rule of Law to apply the law must be just and it must be a valid law passed by those with the proper authority.  Ignoring or protesting unjust laws are valid methods of maintaining the Rule of Law.

The Coronavirus lockdowns and everything else violate state constitutions and state laws. That is the proper level for fighting these unjust rules and practices.

Report from Louisiana: Closing the Classroom

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – I went up to do my end-of-the-year cleanout in my classroom this week.  It was incredibly sad.

On a Friday morning at 10:30, second block should have been winding to a close and kids should have been anxiously waiting for the lunch bell at 10:40. The mid-day announcements would be coming over the intercom.

By the time I left, about 11:00, there should have been kids in the halls, duty teachers monitoring those kids, microwaves across campus warming up teacher lunches. The office should have been bustling, Mrs. Kiper, the secretary, laughing and lobbing wise cracks with kids and administrators. The library should have been filled with kids using the computers or playing board games at the tables. The courtyard should have been filled with kids burning off a little energy before third block. Teachers should have been making that last dash to the restroom before the long afternoon classes start.

None of that was happening.

The parking lot was empty.

There were ZERO students on campus.  My room was quiet as a tomb.

My room would have normally had a couple of kids in there eating lunch about that time of the day.

Instead, I found empty desks, library books abandoned in the baskets underneath.

I sighed, looked around, and went to get my things that I needed to work from home.

I missed the sound of kids, and the notes they would leave for me if they came by while I was out.

Every single kid was important to me, is important to me, and it just feels like we didn’t get to finish what we started. It feels tragic and sad…unfinished.

Their journals were still on my desk, graded, ready to return.

We left school on the Friday before Spring Break: March 6. My assignments from that day are still written on the board.

We all expected to come back to school when we left that day. Kids took library books home, textbooks, projects to finish, uniforms to wash, schedules to fill out for next year, and plans. They had plans for their graduation, prom, ring ceremonies, sporting events, and yes, academics. None of that happened.

So yes, all of that literally hangs in the air when you walk in the halls now. It’s a tangible thing.

I cleaned out the snacks I kept in my desk for kids that needed something to eat; that won’t keep until August. I took home my coffee cup, emptied the water in the Keurig. I looked through projects that weren’t finished, some that were, and I scored a bottle of GermX from my supply closet. I erased my board, bagged up things I needed to take home, and I turned out the light.

I am very curious, and perhaps nervous, about what school will look like when we return in August. While the Moderna coronavirus vaccine shows some early promise, there is still a long way to go before we have that option. A larger trial is expected this summer, but obviously won’t be ready before fall.

So, what will opening of school look like this fall? Smaller classes?  Online options? The typical high school classroom is not overly large and is usually filled with thirty or more students. Crowded lunchrooms, auditoriums, and even at university level, think of the crowded lecture halls. How are we going to manage these things?

Schools in Denmark opened several weeks ago with new distancing and hygiene measures in place and restrictions all across Europe are easing. Things such as staggered classes, sectioning off parts of campus, and no large gatherings are all options to consider. What of transportation? School busses filled with kids could also be a danger zone.

What are we to do? Hide from this virus? Wait for a vaccine? Or ignore it and get back to life as usual?

I don’t have the answers. All I know for certain is my own little world, my own small classroom, where sixty-five kids were upended in the middle of their academic year.

So much unfinished business.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport and is the author of Cane River Bohemia: Cammie Henry and her Circle at Melrose Plantation. Follow her on Instagram @patbecker25 and Twitter @paustin110.

Masks dehumanize us

Discarded medical mask, Miami Woods, Morton Grove, Illinois

By John Ruberry

On my way to work here in Illinois–where Democratic governor JB Pritzker says I have to wear a mask–I was listening to Dennis Prager’s show when he said something along the lines that people connect to each other by way of seeing their faces. Very true. The most obvious example is by way of dating sites, nearly all of the profiles include face pics. Whether you are old or young, thin or heavy, bald or hairy, every expert on creating profiles for LinkedIn recommends using a quality head shot on that employment networking site. 

Faces are how we remember people. When you think of Angelina Jolie her lips come to mind. With Jay Leno it’s his prominent chin. With John Bolton his bushy mustache is his visual trademark. If they are wearing masks you won’t see their distinctive facial features. 

A masked face doesn’t allow you to see smiles.

It’s unclear how effective masks are in preventing the spread of COVID-19, with the exception of the N95 mask, which gets its name because it’s supposed to block 95 percent of small particles.  

What is clear is that the projections of the death total from the novel coronavirus have been alarmist. The most dire one predicted 2.2 million COVID-19 deaths in America–and that prediction likely led to many shelter-in-place orders being put in place, including the one that was extended by Pritzker, most likely illegally, until the end of May. The latter order opened a few more places, such as golf courses, but added a mask requirement for businesses open to the public, such as big box stores. Dine-in restaurants, hair salons, and health clubs remain shuttered. Churches too. 

Humans are primates and primates are social beings. We’re not cats. While there are a few among us who choose the life a hermit, even existences commonly connected with solitude, such as that of a monk or a nun, involve a community where people see each other. Monks typically live in monasteries with other monks. Nuns dwell in convents with other nuns. 

So far COVID-19 is not nearly as deadly as the 1918 Flu Pandemic which killed anywhere from 50-100 million people worldwide–and many of those who died of it were in their twenties and thirties who were otherwise healthy. It is not the Asian Flu of the late 1950s which killed roughly two million. While every death of course is a tragedy, so far 300,000 people have died of COVID-19. In 1918 the world population was about 1.6 billion, in 1958 it was a bit short of 3 billion. Today’s world population is 8 billion. 

A few weeks ago I questioned whether the draconian methods to shut down our economy were worth it, bankruptcies and unemployment are common triggers for substance abuse, depression, spousal and child abuse, and suicide. Since that post we’ve learned nearly all of the coronavirus fatalities suffered from pre-existing conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, cancer, and obesity. 

Now because of masks we are becoming the faceless, like the disturbing images in the “Life of Julia” Obama-Biden campaign video from 2012 that preached to the masses–not to individuals–the inherent power of a government that does everything for you. But remember Barry Goldwater’s warning, “Any government that is big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take away everything you have.”

Like Prager, I’m not a conspiracy nut. But a couple of weeks ago he wrote that the coronavirus overreaction is a dress rehearsal for a police state. Chicago’s vast expanse of lakefront parks–which is 18 miles long–have been closed for six weeks and counting. Churches and dine-in restaurants are closed statewide, as I mentioned earlier. In regards to the latter, for health reasons will the state or local governments in Illinois retain the power to shutter restaurants that serve, let’s say, too much high-fat food? That possibility is no longer far-fetched. 

The lakefront parks won’t be closed forever. But I can easily see Lori Lightfoot or a future Chicago mayor limiting Lincoln Park or Jackson Park to a few hundred visitors each day–with government workers with internal passports first in line of course–in the name of nature preservation or fighting global warming. It will of course all be done in the name of the faceless masses. 

I’m running low on orange juice. I may need run to the supermarket. Where is my mask?

I’ll be less of a human wearing that mask. Is that the plan?

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

My Wuhan Virus Regimen

by baldilocks

So, this is how I’m maintaining my physical health during the LA lockdown.

My daily intake:

  • Calcium 1000 mg
  • Vitamin D 3000 units
  • Zinc 15 mg
  • Aspirin 325 mg
  • Old person multivitamin (age 50+); two things of special value in this: vitamins B6 and B12

Home juicer squeezed fruit juice consisting of:

  • Strawberries or beets
  • Orange
  • Lemon
  • Grapefruit
  • Tomato
  • Apple
  • Ginger
  • Lime (sometimes)
  • Kiwifruit

Home juicer squeezed juice consisting of:

  • Carrot
  • Tomato
  • Garlic

I drink that last concoction when I’m not going to be near anyone for a bit. A friend told me that it knocks down cold/flu symptoms, but I haven’t had either one since I started drinking it … that may or may not be proof of its effectiveness.

(Disclaimer: I am not a vegetarian and have no plans to become one.)

Nighttime: big glass of water with a spoonful of food-grade diatomaceous earth. Allegedly this stuff does a lot of things, but it does one very important thing: it makes everything come out right in the morning, if you get my drift.

Daily output:

Recently I was diagnosed with a condition called spondylolisthesis. It is literally a pain in my butt on the right side, but that wasn’t what caused me to have it checked out. It was this: if I lay on my back for more than about a minute, my right foot starts to tingle.

It stems from an injury I received many years ago while helping someone move a heavy object. So, that diagnosis has resulted in three things.

The first is physical therapy, during which I learn how to strengthen my core, how to properly stretch and where a cute young guy gives me a back(side) massage twice a week. And, yes, they are open during the lockdown.

The second is power walking; 45-60 minutes, roughly 3 miles, 5-6 times a week. When I reach a speed that puts me under 45 minutes, I increase the distance the next day. It’s a good time to listen to audiobooks, but I don’t do it that often. I get out and walk very early and I like the sound of silence.

I’ve been doing this for about a month and I had thought about doing some jogging, but because of the spondy-blah-blah, that’s out. Good thing, too. In spite of my Kenyan heritage, I hate running.

Walking while wearing a N95 mask: I keep it on the tip of my nose unless I’m near someone. It’s more for their peace of mind than mine.

The third thing: planking. This practice has greatly increased the length of time that I’m able to lie my back before my foot starts to tingle. And it has noticeably decreased my computer hunch.

I feel really great after I finish, both physically and emotionally.

No claims on whether this regimen cures or prevents anything, but it can’t hurt.

I was taking almost all the vitamins and the home-juice long before the onset of COVID-19, so I’m not making any claims on effectiveness against that or any other virus. Mostly I began taking these things to ward off pain, anxiety and lethargy. I have only one prescription – the vitamin D – and I plan on keeping it that way for as long as possible.

And I top all this off with a big dollop of prayers for success. God rewards action.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng has been blogging since 2003 as baldilocks. Her older blog is here.  She published her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game in 2012.

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Russia’s Hunger Games

Images from Kadykchan, Russia

While debates continue to rage online about what the true death toll of COVID-19 is, one thing is for certain: Russia and China’s numbers are 100% false. As of this morning, the John Hopkins COVID dashboard is recording 2,537 deaths for Russia and 4,637 deaths in China. If you trust those numbers in countries with 144 million and 1.44 billion, then I’d hate to see your investment strategy.

For Russia, the virus is particularly deadly. Russia’s demographics have all the wrong characteristics for resisting the disease. Russia’s population is considerably older, with an average age around 40 years old. This is skewed heavily, with women living on average almost 10 years longer than men. Stereotypes aside, Russian men have considerable alcohol problems, and compounded by a high smoking rate, the population isn’t exactly healthy.

All of this is made worse by a crumbling hospital infrastructure. While Russian health care is universal and government funded, it suffers from a high level of bureaucracy and lack of funding. Worse still, because of the high concentration of the countries wealth in Moscow verses the rest of the nation. This causes health care to decline significantly the farther away you get from Moscow, causing places like Siberia to suffer considerably more. If you needed a place that resembles The Hunger Games, Russia would be a great fit.

We won’t get the true COVID-19 numbers from Russia, as the government will clamp down on them considerably. But given their setup, be ready for true devastation. Personally I would watch satellite pictures of light intensity, because I would expect areas, especially remote ones, to become uninhabited.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency.

We the People decide what is normal not the government

One phrase that has been bandied about far too often during this Coronavirus crisis is “the new normal.”  It deeply disturbs me every time I hear an elected member from our government, at any level, declare that the end result of their plans for reopening our country will be a new normal. 

Whenever one of our elected representatives uses that phrase they are acting like a dictator.  They are treating us like subjects rather that citizens of a Constitutional Republic.  Governor Charlie Baker of Massachusetts acted like a dictator when he declared this to be phase four of  his torturously slow plan for reopening this state:

Phase 4 will be the “New Normal” – development of vaccine and/or therapy enables resumption of new normal.

The use the phrase “new normal” as the end goal is a sign of surrender to the virus.  It is defeatist.  It is not something we Americans should ever strive for.  The only acceptable end result for any challenge facing this country is a complete return to the normal we had before the challenge began.

When a  politician declares that the end scenario of any crisis will result in a new normal they are declaring that they want to fundamentally transform this nation in some way.  It is unacceptable to us Americans that our government will unilaterally transform this nation in some way. We the people must always be the the agents of change for any change no matter how small or local.

It also bothers me greatly that phase four of the Baker plan will only commence when a vaccine or therapy enables it.  There is no guarantee when that would happen.  Until then we are stuck in phase3 which is defined as “Phase 3 will be “Vigilant” – additional industries resume operations with guidance.”   It will mean nothing but government interference,

The entire Baker plan, as unveiled on this past Monday, is as slow and arduous as I feared when I wrote last week’s article.  I’m afraid that by the time we reach the end of it the economic devastation will be quite catastrophic. We need to let Governor Baker know that his plan is way too slow.

Report from Louisiana: Contact tracing the new normal?

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – I was quite interested to read John Ruberry’s post on this blog this weekend in which he discusses the impact of Covid-19 in Illinois under the leadership of Governor J.B. Pritzker.  It all sounds so very familiar.

In Louisiana, we are waiting once again for Governor John Bel Edwards to move Louisiana to Phase One and reopen businesses. We expected this announcement two weeks ago, but Edwards surprised us all by extending our stay at home order until May 16, infuriating business owners, citizens, and a large number of Republican lawmakers.

As of last week, Louisiana’s unemployment rate was around 22%.

One of the components for reopening the state that Edwards will discuss today will be Contact Tracing.  Right now, Louisiana has 70 people trained for contact tracing which does NOT meet suggested guidelines, but Edwards plans to hire hundreds more.

Many are obviously suspicious about the concept of contact tracing and what information will be gathered, not to mention who will be gathering it. According to Governor Edwards:

The state’s plan considers people who have been in close contact with someone if they are:

Household members of the person who tested positive.

Intimate partners of the person who tested positive.

People who have provided care to you in the household or outside.

Anyone who has been in close contact – that is defined as someone who has been within six feet or closer for a time period greater than 15 minutes.

In New Orleans, Mayor LaToya Cantrell is taking this a step further by requiring shopkeepers to keep records of everyone who shops, or comes into, their stores.

It is all very “Big Brother” and many are suspicious of giving information to a contact tracer. One new contact tracer described her first day this way:

Some people are a little suspicious. Some people hang up after I ask for their date of birth and address. I understand that, the mistrust of the government, having grown up under communism. But it’s too bad. I feel like they can benefit from this information: how to quarantine themselves, how they can protect their families, and what kind of support is available. Probably 50%, maybe 60%, of the contacts that I call on my shift don’t answer. Some don’t have voicemail set up. But I leave a message when I can, and several people called me back yesterday.

NPR details how contact tracing works and how it has been used in other countries:

The idea behind this public health strategy is simple: Keep the virus in check by having teams of public health workers — epidemiologists, nurses, trained citizens — identify each new positive case, track down their contacts and help both the sick person and those who were exposed isolate themselves.

This is the strategy that’s been proven to work in other countries, including China, South Korea, and Germany. For it to work in the U.S., states and local communities will need ample testing and they’ll need to expand their public health workforce. By a lot.

And while Google and Apple would love to jump in and get a piece of this governmental financial pie, high tech is not really what works in this case:

It’s not super complicated to understand why technologists are having a hard time getting traction. Traditional contact tracing has been honed over decades of response to disease outbreaks. Officials ask patients where they’ve been and whom they’ve been near; they then suggest those people get tested for the disease and make sure they quarantine, if necessary. Quickly identifying and segregating people carrying the virus can slow the spread of a communicable disease. “It works by building a human bond between two people,” the patient and the contact tracer, says Tom Frieden, the former head of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the New York City Department of of Health and Mental Hygiene. “It means actually talking to someone and answering their questions, addressing their needs and concerns, and building, earning, and maintaining their trust and confidentiality.”

Contact tracing is not a new concept and has been used widely in many other outbreaks, but perhaps never to this extent.

At this point, we are all ready to get back to normal, or new normal, whatever that is. We broke out of quarantine as soon as Texas opened their border to Louisiana again and went to eat in a restaurant. We had to wait outside (in a crowd) for an hour to get in because they can only operate at 25% capacity. There were no salt or pepper shakers on the tables, nothing that has to be repeatedly sanitized. Menus are all paper and disposable. There were a lot of obvious changes.

The new normal will include a lot of changes that make us uncomfortable and perhaps suspicious. But by and large, America is ready to go back to work.

Let’s do this.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport and is the author of Cane River Bohemia: Cammie Henry and her Circle at Melrose Plantation. Follow her on Instagram @patbecker25 and Twitter @paustin110.