John Bel Edwards, Mask Nazi

We have a theory, which isn’t wholly ours, as it’s been bandied about in Republican circles for some time, which explains some of the peculiar actions and statements of Louisiana’s governor John Bel Edwards as he continues attempting to browbeat Louisiana’s citizens about the diminishing Wuhan virus threat.

Edwards has done everything he can to retard the recovery of the state’s economy from the shutdown he instituted in March. He sent out a directive closing as many as half the state’s businesses, then later admitted that those businesses didn’t need to close while claiming his executive order didn’t actually close them – never bothering to account for the fact he hadn’t clarified his statements before billions of dollars in economic losses resulted. Then he kept the state locked down for two extra weeks between May 1 and May 15 when there was no evidence to indicate it was necessary to do so statewide.

Edwards then brought Louisiana into a Phase 1 reopening, but still maintains unusual restrictions on Louisiana’s businesses. He has decreed restaurants may not serve customers at more than 25 percent of their seating capacity, COUNTING STAFF as part of that occupancy. It’s fairly clear the affected businesses, those who choose to open under such draconian and profit-banning restrictions, are ignoring the governor. And he’s hiring an army of some 700 $14-an-hour contact tracers whose job, supposedly, will be to harass people over the phones who were in close proximity with others who have tested positive for the virus, and to demand that those contactees self-quarantine for two weeks. Edwards says his contact tracing program is merely voluntary; the Legislature is discussing making the appropriation of CARES Act funds to state government’s use contingent on the governor keeping his word.

And now he’s continuing to warble on about the wearing of masks in public. In case you haven’t noticed, most of the public isn’t interested in wearing them.

With just five days until Governor John Bel Edwards is expected to make an announcement that could reopen more of the state, Louisiana seems to be continuing down the right path.

“So we’re doing relatively well,” said Edwards in a press conference held Wednesday, May 27.

The numbers are trending downward. The state saw 443 new coronavirus cases Wednesday, and hospitalizations have hit the lowest point in two months. All the good news though, comes on the heels of plenty of pictures shared with the 9News Investigators showing folks jammed into stores and bars over the Memorial Day weekend. From the looks of it, the last thing on their minds was wearing a mask or social distancing. Health experts also tell WAFB the images are concerning.

“I’ve seen the pictures and I know not everybody was responsible,” said Gov. Edwards.

Responding to those pictures, Gov. Edwards pleaded with the public once again to do their part, warning what could happen if folks refuse.

“Those who don’t are asking for trouble and it’s not something that many people are consciously asking for, but for whatever reason, some folks are not complying with that and we need compliance,” said the governor.

While we have certainly made progress, the governor says state officials are watching the numbers closely and that will determine if Louisiana is ready to move on to Phase 2 of reopening. If people are not responsible as they gather, the reopening could be delayed or even reversed if the weekend partying causes infections to spike.

“Approximately 25 percent who are going to get this disease are asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic. They don’t know they have it, they aren’t going to get tested, but they are nevertheless contagious,” said Edwards. “That’s one of the things that makes it very difficult, so the mask is a huge part of making sure that we don’t have a spike in cases again like we saw a couple of months ago.”

Naturally, Edwards was not wearing a mask when he made those remarks.

And all of his statements are, to put it charitably, contestable if not completely asinine.

Before we get to those in detail, here’s the theory: Edwards, as everyone knows because he hasn’t shut up about it since he first came on the political scene, went to West Point. And then he served as the commander of a rifle company in the Army for a little while until he left and went to law school so he could be a plaintiff lawyer.

Meaning that what training Edwards has taught him one method of leadership – these are the orders, and he’s responsible for making sure everybody obeys them. At the middle-management level of the military, which is what Edwards was as a lieutenant, that’s what you get. You take orders from the captains and majors, who are in turn getting them from the colonels and generals, and you pass them along to the sergeants, corporals and privates.

The real world doesn’t work like that. Had Edwards stayed in the Army and risen to colonel or general, he might understand better that real leadership in large organizations involves managing the interests and proclivities of different constituencies and then either persuading them to come aboard his way of thinking or adapting his approach to accommodating their desires. Generals are politicians – a perfect example being the military and later political success of a Dwight D. Eisenhower, about whom it was said was a consummate politician in leading the Allied effort in the European theater of World War II.

So Edwards is treating a state of 4.6 million people as though we’re a rifle company, and he looks like an idiot more often than not when he makes these demands. He should have paid for this deficiency in last year’s elections, but escaped with his job intact. And now he’s busy playing Mask Nazi in front of those 4.6 million people, to comic results.

“I know not everybody was responsible?” John Bel Edwards is doing everything he can to push a budget which misappropriates the better part of a billion dollars in CARES Act money to spend on recurring state expenses, something which will ultimately result in Louisiana bearing some quite unfortunate fiscal consequences, and he wants to call people irresponsible for not wearing a mask in a bar or restaurant?

Seriously?

“Asking for trouble?” What kind of trouble?

Is he suggesting that law enforcement will be making this trouble? An army of angry Karens? Or COVID-19?

If it’s the latter, does he not think people understand the virus is out there after three months of non-stop media-driven hysteria? Perhaps they’re not convinced that a crappy cloth mask will do anything at all to prevent them from getting the virus.

Again, it’s difficult to take him seriously when he himself isn’t wearing a mask during these harangues.

“We need compliance.” Why do you need compliance, John Bel? What exact good does this compliance do? Prevent the spread of the virus?

You do realize that no responsible virologist believes it’s possible to prevent the spread of the virus at this point, do you not?

The virus will spread. China saw to that. The real question is whether it overwhelms the health care system’s ability to serve the public. We now know it won’t, at least not in the way we thought. The biggest threat to the health care system now is that nobody wants to go to the doctor for fear they’ll get the virus and the hospitals are empty and laying people off. You might end up with closures and bankruptcies in that sector which reduce capacity, particularly now that COVID-19 hospitalizations are quickly receding. There are just more than a third of the coronavirus hospitalizations now than there were at the peak of this epidemic in Louisiana a month ago, and even at that point Louisiana’s hospitals were nowhere near full.

And if you’re claiming that you’re just following the directives of the national public health crowd, well…let’s just say they’ve hardly covered themselves with glory, and neither have you.

Which brings us to our favorite of these moronic statements:

“Approximately 25 percent who are going to get this disease are asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic. They don’t know they have it, they aren’t going to get tested, but they are nevertheless contagious,” said Edwards. “That’s one of the things that makes it very difficult, so the mask is a huge part of making sure that we don’t have a spike in cases again like we saw a couple of months ago.”

If they’re asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic, one prominent reason why is they have a strain of this thing which is too weak to do much damage. That happens with viruses; they mutate as they travel from one host to another, and most virus mutations make them less damaging rather than more damaging.

Meaning that if you’re carrying a strain of the Wuhan coronavirus which doesn’t give you noticeable symptoms it’s probably no worse than the common cold. Sure, you might be contagious, but with what?

Our bodies carry literally thousands of viruses at any given time. Only a small number of them have any ability to affect our normal function. The idea that someone who isn’t sick must be treated as Typhoid Mary is insane – if we don’t require masks to keep people from spreading the flu, there is no reason to do so with respect to the Wuhan virus.

And before you scream “THIS IS NOT THE FLU!” you should remember that the CDC is now calculating the death rate for COVID-19 as 0.26 percent.

Nationally, almost half of those deaths have come in nursing homes. Meaning that if you’re not in a nursing home the death rate is 0.15 percent or perhaps lower.

Which is, as surprising to you as this may be, almost precisely the same as the flu.

It’s pretty clear Edwards isn’t convincing too many people about those masks. Let’s hope that his harangues and feeble attempts to browbeat the public into this “compliance” he seeks are the extent of his actions. Otherwise, if anybody is “asking for trouble” it’s Edwards, because cops arresting and ticketing people for not wearing masks won’t play well with a public which is already obviously done with his shutdown.

Louisiana’s legislature ought to be paying attention, because they have the power to end this entire ridiculous and destructive pantomime by signing a petition to end Edwards’ emergency. The time to do that is already past, but as the old saying goes, better late than never.



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