by Kerry Dougherty

Oh look.

We’re coming up on the one-year anniversary of 15 Days to Slow the Spread. Remember that? The big lie that if we simply shut down the country for just two weeks, it would stop the coronavirus from rampaging coast to coast and allow hospitals prepare for the onslaught.

They warned us that if we didn’t take a two-week timeout we’d turn into Italy.

And we believed them.

Well, 15 days didn’t slow the spread. And neither did 10 months. Meanwhile, we never turned into Italy and hospital staffs had time to make cute TikTok videos.

In fact, is was January 2021 (and December in some places) that set records for cases from coast to coast. That was also true internationally, even in countries that don’t celebrate Christmas. It seemed to make no difference if the states had mask mandates or lockdowns.

The pattern was eerily similar across much of the world. Almost as if mitigation didn’t matter.

Yesterday Governors Greg Abbott of Texas and Tate Reeves of Mississippi joined a handful of other red state executives when they reopened their states, scrapped mask mandates and ended emergency orders that turned American children into mental patients, killed countless small businesses, led to isolation and depression and ultimately did little to contain the virus.

For the record, I objected to the stomping of civil rights from the start. I wrote this on March 24, 2020 when Gov. Ralph Northam became the first in the nation to close public schools for the rest of the school year:

With yesterday’s hasty and heavy-handed move Northam slyly signaled that the other shutdowns he’s ordered are also going to last months rather than weeks. Almost as if he’s been spoon-feeding his plans to the public rather than being honest.

Unless I’m completely misreading the current mood, ordinary folks aren’t going to stand for indefinite, months-long shutdowns. A few weeks. Maybe. Months? Watch out.

In the words of William Butler Yeats, “The centre cannot hold.”

Hah. I was wrong. I overestimated how much Americans valued their civil liberties. I underestimated just how willingly they would surrender them.

Now that government officials have seen how obedient Americans are when you gin up the hysteria, I worry about the next nationwide emergency. And there will be one. Trust me.

But first we need to shake off the shackles of this one.

Let’s applaud the governors who trust their citizens to take the necessary precautions to protect themselves. Just because baseball stadiums will be at capacity doesn’t mean you have to be in the stands. Just because clubs and bars will be open doesn’t mean you have to sidle up and order a drink. If you still want to wear a mask — or two — no one will stop you.

Anyone who is frightened or vulnerable can continue to stay home and order from Amazon.

Naturally, the lockdown lobby is incensed. They worry that if cases don’t soar in these “free states,” they too will have to loosen restrictions and relinquish their control of the masses.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom, the subject of a recall petition with 1.8 million signatures, tweeted two words at Governor Abbot yesterday: Absolutely reckless.

This is the loon who told Californians to wear masks between bites of food and then was photographed at a crowded indoor table at the French Laundry, one of the world’s most expensive restaurants, with no social distancing, no mask.

If you find yourself hoping that Texas and Mississippi have a surge in COVID cases, you’re a horrible person.

Frankly, if you never missed a paycheck during the lockdowns at least have the decency to remain silent when governors boldly try to give their embattled citizens a way to reclaim their lives.

All along the shutdowns were the conceit of the middle and upper classes who hid in their McMansions and let the working class fetch things for them, while whining about how “everyone” should just stay home.

Surely even those who initially supported the lockdowns must see the damage they caused. If the blue state governors don’t follow the lead of their counterparts in the red states and cancel their endless emergency orders, people may finally decide to ignore the orders and take their civil liberties back.

Variations of this have circulated on social media for months:

It’s just 15 days.

It’s just a month.

It’s just a mask.

It’s just the schools.

It’s just non-essential business.

It’s just the bars.

It’s just the gyms.

It’s just the churches.

It’s just no household mixing.

It’s just Halloween.

It’s just Thanksgiving

It’s just Christmas.

It’s just New Years.

It’s just until a vaccine.

It’s just two masks.

It’s just until COVID disappears.

Fact is, it’s forever. Until we say “enough.”