Tom Riggins: What changed?

When Gov. Sisolak originally announced his “stay at home” orders and mandated closing of “non-essential” businesses the stated reason was primarily to prevent the state’s health care system from being overrun.

Now every time he makes a public statement his policies are about “saving lives.” So governor, what changed? Why is the purpose now different? Especially now that many hospitals are facing economic duress as much of their mainstay business has been set aside, by your order, to prepare for the apparently non-existent overrun of COVID-19 patients.

That raises the question, if your true intent is to save lives how far are you willing to go? People die from vehicle accidents. Are you willing to ban driving to save lives? Heart disease is the number one cause of death in Nevada, with over 6,000 annually. Are you going to send law enforcement into our now-quarantined homes to make sure we do our daily cardio exercises? Smoking contributes to the third largest cause of death. Why not ban cigarettes altogether? Drug abuse is another killer. All of these may save lives. Besides, now that you have a taste of it, maybe you could declare a state emergency for whatever you desire.

Some things about the COVID-19 virus are now becoming apparent that should change your view. First, it is becoming apparent that the virus was in the U.S. far earlier than first thought, possibly since October 2019. Second, it is becoming apparent that far more people have contracted the virus with either no symptoms or no treatment than is being reported.

A study in New York City showed one in four people carried antibodies. A study by Stanford University revealed that 50 times more people carry the antibody than have been tested or treated. And a University of Southern California study showed similar results but closer to 85 times more people with antibodies. This data reduces the mortality rate to under one-half percent, similar to other flu and cold viruses. None of these sources can be considered bastions of conservatism but the results are being universally ignored. Governor, did these studies enter into your thinking?

Third, there seems to be a political aspect to the virus. The media releases a barrage of ominous and often incomplete or incorrect reporting to keep the fearmongering going. The liberals couldn’t take Trump down with lies and scandals, but they believe an economic crisis will. It is in their interest to keep this going as long as possible regardless of the impact on the poor and middle class. Just ask who really benefits from the shutdown.

There are far more people unconcerned or barely concerned about the virus than those in full-fledged concern. People are tired of intrusive orders made with no oversight or restriction. Admittedly, it is worse in some other states. But the joining of Nevada with other western states (Idaho and Utah noticeably opting out) is concerning. Governor, why can’t we make our own decisions without relying on California and Washington?

Governor, you have wreaked havoc on the state’s economy. Unemployment is now at a record high. Despite your assurances to the contrary, people cannot access government services like unemployment benefits. The system is overloaded without change in sight. Small and large businesses are on the verge of bankruptcy and failure. Basic services such as haircuts and exercise facilities are banned.

Governor, there are those who believe your end goal is a state income tax. I don’t think that was your original intent. A state income tax will require amending the state constitution, a 4- to 6-year process. Previous attempts have failed. Even your liberal friends balk at that. Hopefully people have long memories. But other new taxes will be proposed. The question now is if you think you can raise taxes without voter approval under the guise of emergency.

“Until it is safe” means never. Don’t delude us with that promise. You don’t get to decide for us what is safe and what isn’t. Trust the good Nevadans you so often referred to in your Thursday news conference to make their own choices.

Businesses should be allowed to open with the level of safeguards they, not you, deem appropriate. Customers are then able to choose whether they accept those safeguards as appropriate or take their business elsewhere. Freedom is not without risk. Don’t tell us you are better able to determine that risk than us.


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