At this time, three years ago, the nation was in shock and shambles, with businesses and churches closed, Main Street boarded up, people huddling in terror in their homes, and everyone dealing with travel restrictions between states.
Parents had left work to care for their children because the child care facilities and schools were shuttered. Commerce had died. Not even the hospital parking lots had cars in them because they had all but shut for anything but Covid and other emergencies. People stayed home out of fear.
It was then that the money began to flow from Washington. Congress voted for a $2.2 trillion spending package that went to states and kept the lockdowns going. The reason was simple: they were getting more money from lockdowns than they were missing in sales tax. The governors chose money from D.C. over the rights of their own citizens.
Trump’s lockdown edict of March 16, 2020 was designed as an emergency measure but the 15 days were then extended to 30 and more. He had been told early on that this virus was likely a bioweapon but not to worry because the military was working with pharmaceutical companies to produce the antidote. All we needed to do was minimize infections via restrictions on mobility and gatherings and then the magic potion would arrive to fix everything.
The script was wrong but dominant. The end goal was implicit eradication, which was always impossible, and getting there required case minimization, which was a massive immunological error. At some point in the following week, something went off in Trump’s head and he began to wonder if he had been played. He wasn’t sure but he began to suspect it.
Two weeks from today, three years ago, the president was getting more frustrated and was ready to bail on the whole plan. Jared Kushner (Breaking History) tells the story.
On April 15, Trump called me to the Oval Office and said that he wanted to end the COVID-19 lockdown and reopen the economy the following day. While he believed that the federal guidance to slow the spread was justified to flatten the curve and build up lifesaving supplies, it was supposed to be temporary, and he believed that the doctors wanted it to go on indefinitely.
As he fielded calls from business leaders, economists, and members of Congress, it was clear that the unemployment rate would soon jump to 30 percent. He told me that he wanted to make an announcement immediately.
I implored him to give me a few more days, explaining that the governors had asked for clear reopening guidelines and that Dr. Birx was in the process of formulating a plan that Trump’s medical and economic teams could support. I cautioned him that if he moved forward before a plan was finalized, his own advisers would distance themselves from the decision and Americans would lose confidence in the federal response.
“If we can have consensus on a plan, it will be much better,” I said.
Trump ultimately agreed to give me twenty-four hours to achieve a consensus on reopening. In a meeting with the president the next day, April 16, Fauci strongly advised against a full reopening. Continued lockdowns would save lives, he argued, and we should keep them as long as possible.
“I’m not going to preside over the funeral of the greatest country in the world,” Trump declared.
“I understand,” said Fauci meekly. “I just do medical advice. I don’t think about things like the economy and the secondary impacts. I’m just an infectious diseases doctor. Your job as president is to take everything else into consideration.”
Fauci was a shrewd politician and smooth communicator. Nobody rises to the top of a bureaucracy like the National Institutes of Health and survives six presidential administrations over three and a half decades without knowing how to self-promote, outmaneuver, and curry favor with the powerful.
The result was a grand reopening plan issued April 20, 2020. It is embedded below.Guidelines-PDF
This plan was a complete ruse. It was designed to go in three stages but just to get to stage one was not an easy task. It should have been called a Keep America Closed Plan. Even before a state could consider reopening, it had to achieve the following:
Downward trajectory of documented cases within a 14-day period, or a downward trajectory of positive tests as a percent of total tests within a 14-day period (flat or increasing volume of tests)
At any point in the 14 days, cases (defined as PCR testing, which may or may not mean sick) could start rising again and the 14 days had to start over again. Remember this was during what seemed to be the lowest wave simply because the virus needed to travel far and wide for population immunity.
Simply put, no state could comply. And even if the phased reopening began, it would need to be rolled back again and started over. If this plan had been fully implemented, it would have meant three years of rolling lockdowns. It had the look and feel of science and expertise but the whole thing was made up out of whole cloth solely for the purpose of keeping the scam going.
Here is the map of “cases” extended over years. Follow the ups and down and imagine yourself locked down in every two week period in which there is not a clear decline. Keep in mind too that this chart does not reflect with precision any existing reality. It is gleaned from official tests run with PCR tests.
In other words, the whole plan was a ruse concocted by Deborah Birx and Anthony Fauci to trick Trump into thinking that there was a plan in place that would save the US economy and his presidency. There wasn’t. It was also useful to bamboozle the public into thinking they only needed to comply a bit longer and then all would be well.
Baked into the opening plan was the idea that lockdowns would actually achieve something such as lower case counts to the point that the virus would vanish. It was a carrot held out for those areas willing to put up with the stick long enough. Thus the only reason the great opening – meaning liberty and rights – would be delayed was due to a recalcitrant failure on the part of people to defy the lockdown plans.
This plan was also structured to encourage governors and other officials to continue to crack down on people so as to keep case counts as low as possible so that compliance would be rewarded with some lessening of restrictions. It was the embodiment of “Beatings will continue until morale improves” or more precisely “We will allow morale to improve only when it becomes clear that the beatings are working.”
The White House’s reopening plan partook of the same bad epidemiology as the lockdowns, the mistaken view that government policy could somehow assert hegemony over the microbial kingdom with executive orders, pronouncements, and cops. Once that policy worked, it could be relaxed but not before.
Even in Phase One, there were domestic capacity restrictions and demands for social distancing and so on, plus the injunction never to touch your face, as if your own body was poison. Employers were told to close common areas. Travel was to be essential only. Movie theaters could only open “under strict physical distancing protocols.” All of this nonsense purported to be “the science” but it was clearly designed to keep up general population alarm and heighten fear levels.
Presuming any state could ever get to Phase Two, which could only happen once there was no “rebound” in the virus,” there were still restrictions: “Social settings of more than 50 people, where appropriate distancing may not be practical, should be avoided unless precautionary measures are observed.” Only in Phase Three were bars allowed to have normal capacity. Such precision in planning would make the crafters of a Soviet Five Year Plan blush.
This was not a reopening plan at all but a trap to keep the country in lockdowns until they could no longer be viably sustained. In addition, some version of this bogus plan was copied in nearly every state, with various decrees of specificity. It was a nation-wide bonanza of fake science designed to make the experts look like they knew what they were doing when in fact they were making things up out of whole cloth to save face.
And sure enough, Georgia was the first to bolt out of this lockdown prison, followed by Florida and Texas later. But in the meantime, countless businesses had been destroyed and untold numbers of lives wrecked under the false belief that laws and edicts could somehow redirect and eradicate a respiratory virus that everyone would get in any case.
The folly of this period of our lives is truly unspeakable. The “reopening” plan was part of the same, a presumptuous use of state power that had no basis in science but rather only served to broadcast the message of who had power and who did not. It was structured to fail, and fail again if it accidentally succeeded. Dressed up in the authority of a grand government plan, it was nothing but a stalking horse for continued lockdowns on a rolling basis until our masters in Washington decided otherwise.