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End it now! 

All businesses are essential, if only to the owners who depends upon them for their livelihood. Why is a florist closed but a liquor store open, or an abortion clinic open but a dental office closed? Who makes these decisions?

Why do we have ordinances that grant unaccountable power to unelected officials upon declaration of an emergency without continuous review and approval of their decrees by our elected officials?

It's time to end the economic shutdown and return America to work. The five weeks of economic shutdown are producing catastrophic economic results with questionable ability to limit the spread of coronavirus infections. Recent studies from University of Southern California are now indicating that the virus infection rate may be 28 to 55 times more infectious than realized, which makes its lethality much lower than projected. The USC study estimates that as many as 400,000 people in LA have already been infected, whereas the official rate is listed at only 8,000 with more than 600 deaths, as confirmed on April 20 during the LA public health director's press conference. This is comparable to a Stanford University study in Santa Clara County showing similar results.

We were told to expect a pandemic apocalypse with 2 million deaths according to models from the Imperial Medical College of London. Our own CDC affirmed this after initially denying coronavirus posed any significant public health threat in January/February. Those model projections were reduced to 200,000 and then to 60,000, and the models included social distancing in their calculations. Whatever reduction in deaths has occurred is not a result of social distancing but in the nature of the virus itself.

New York City is a hotspot and an outlier, with heavy population density and compact housing, heavy dependency upon crowded mass transit and elevators, and leaders who were late in responding. Subways, which remain open, are a major cause of infection spread but are essential for inner-city transport. Upstate New York is not experiencing the travails of NYC nor are other rural communities. Neither are many states; some are now opening (Texas, Georgia, and others). Nor is Sweden, which invoked no closure (20 deaths total), with Norway and Denmark reopening after only two dozen deaths. So, too, is Germany.

According to Dr. Warren Frankel of Templeton, who has led charitable medical teams globally for decades, coronavirus is a self-limiting disease similar to swine flu which will diminish on its own. He faults the models' "worst-casing" the disease, using inappropriate methodologies. He told me that modelers are using incident rates—the number of deaths over positive virus tests instead of mortality rates, which are an amount of deaths over the total population—resulting in a higher lethality rate than is actually occurring.

For instance, if we used the current coronavirus model standard, a person testing positive for coronavirus who was asymptomatic and considered possibly contagious, requires isolation. If we applied that standard to every infectious disease (like strep throat), we'd all be quarantined forever.

Finally, Dr. Frankel noted that in coronavirus cases, the virus is listed as the cause of death when in all other cases, the "cause of death" would be cardiac arrest or another direct cause with the virus being listed as a "contributing factor." Listing the virus as the cause of death obscures the role played by underlying ailments, such as cancer, diabetes, or cardiovascular disease being a terminal ailment aggravated by the virus. It skews the statistics to make the virus appear to be more lethal than it really is.

This pandemic is not unique. Check the CDC's estimated influenza disease burden for the United States' 2017-18 influenza season. Just two years ago, total hospitalizations were 808,129 and total deaths 61,099 (all age groups). The 1957-58 H2N2 influenza pandemic killed 116,000 Americans (220,000 in today's population). Those are actual numbers, far exceeding the current outbreak, yet the media took little notice.

Financial analysts are reporting our national economy is systematically collapsing at a far more dangerous rate than anyone expected. More than 22 million Americans are now unemployed from an economy that a month ago was fully employed and expanding. LA County is reporting a 45 percent unemployment rate. We are heading for a Great Depression that may exceed the collapse of 1929.

We are accumulating multi-generational national debt and crippling our ability to recover as small and medium businesses are strangled. Locally, as much as 50 percent of local businesses may not reopen if this shutdown continues beyond April. It's already too late for some. Our communities are being gutted with favorite restaurants likely to close and many newspapers, the heartbeat of our communities, in dire straits. Some report already laying off 50 percent of their staff. Low-income workers are hardest hit as are working families. They depend upon schools opening as 85 percent of working families with school-age children depend upon schools as their primary child care, which for now is non-existent.

Our liberties are at stake as authoritarian governors reveal character flaws that only crisis reveals.

As a senior, grandfather, and father with health-care-worker children engaged in this fight, I hope we have something left to save. Δ

Al Fonzi had a 35-year military career, serving in both the Vietnam and Iraq wars. Respond in a letter to the editor emailed to letters@newtimesslo.com.

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