Sometimes you can see a storm coming long before the raindrops start hitting your face. For example, when President Trump released his guidelines to end the coronavirus shutdown Governor Cooper didn’t knock anybody down racing to re-open our economy.
Why is the Governor hesitating? Maps may provide an answer. Like most Democrats, Governor Cooper’s political world rests on foundation blocks in cities and suburbs – in ‘blue counties’ where the virus is not looking like it’s under control. By contrast, ‘red counties,’ outside the major counties and suburbs, are faring better. So who – the red counties or the blue counties – decides when we end the shutdown?
We could have that fight – on top of fighting coronavirus – but it really doesn’t make any sense. Besides, we have a better choice than ‘open everyone or open no one.’ The counties and cities across the state long ago formed 16 regional alliances – called North Carolina Regional Councils – to address each region’s shared interests when it comes to economic development and transportation.
Those NC Regional Councils are staffed by professionals who work on data acquisition and analysis. The councils also have a long history of collaboration with the local governments in their regions. And they exist in their current configurations because that’s what the local residents, not politicians in Raleigh, wanted.
Let’s use them. They can get the data and merge it with all their counties data before releasing it, which will eliminate hospitals worrying about disclosing proprietary data about patients and violating HIPAA laws. To obtain the data we need to find a route out of a medical and economic crisis, there’s no better choice with an equivalent skill set.
We can then use nationally established criteria, one of the few offerings by President Trump that has not been widely attacked, to implement a policy that rightfully sets stages for economic recovery based on data about coronavirus in each county. The regions that show the most progress or have been hit less by coronavirus may go ahead and re-open, and stay open, while those regions hit hardest, which need more time to curtail coronavirus, can take steps to do what’s best for them.
North Carolina is one state made up of many communities – doesn’t it make common sense to allow the different communities to decide when to end their shutdown and begin the recovery from coronavirus?