UNCHARTED TERRITORY (part of the COVID-19 RESPONSE series) by Michael Stanton

April 14, 2020

The response to the COVID-19 is presented a myriad of public policy problems. To me, what is most troubling is the amount of authority that has been vested in government bodies at all level. So far this week, the governor of South Carolina has closed all public beaches and boat ramps. In addition to those restrictions, most, if not all, state parks are closed.

I’m troubled by the government’s actions in closing areas where social distancing could still be practiced. I’m equally troubled by the ripple effect this could cause on individual’s physical and mental health.

From a law enforcement perspective, I’ve heard stories of county jail’s refusing to accept arrested individuals. I’ve also heard that at lease one jail will not hold anyone unless they are charged with a  capital crime.  I have serious concerns as to how this policy will contribute to lawlessness and victimization.

In terms of the government’s response, I feel that the government has done a good job of responding to this crisis. I’d contend this is an unprecedented event, so we are in uncharted territory. I’m encouraged by the government’s work to provide relief to the various interest groups. The government has been working to help hospitals, business, and individual persons.

I think it a tremendous testiment to the resolve and commitment of our govenment and the ability of our representatives to govern by how rapildy the various relief bills passed through congress. For the first time in a while, there was a truly bipartisan approach to legislation.

There are several takeaways from this crisis. First, there is an incredible amount of goodwill that is being demonstrated. Everyday we see stories about communities and people coming together to help. Second, this crisis has demonstrated the downside of America’s foreign reliance. There is a significant amount of medical goods and equipment. This has certainly created national security implications and in some ways, reduced the ability to treat patients.

I’m not sure there is a clear path forward, I think this is something we have to take one day at a time.



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