The National Guard has been called out in several states--including North Carolina--although mostly in small numbers so far, and so far only to help with distribution of supplies and with testing for the COVID-19 virus, but the possibility of stricter enforcement remains as the virus spreads every day.
President Trump has so far rejected the idea of a national lockdown, but New York, California, and Illinois have 'shelter in place' restrictions that they say might be tightened.
Effective Sunday (March 22nd) New Yorkers are being asked to stay off the street as much as possible, although mass transit will still be operating, as will food delivery services.
"This is the most drastic action we can take," Governor Andrew Cuomo said at a briefing. New York confirmed 7,800 COVID-19 cases, up more than 3,000 in the past day. Cuomo said his state is testing more people per capita than South Korea and China. Cuomo also said 18% of New York's patients have required hospitalization.
In California, Governor Gavin Newsom ordered the state's 40 million residents to "shelter in place" and warned that 56% of the state's population was likely to contract the virus within the next eight weeks.
Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker also issued a 'shelter in place' order. Illinois schools will now remain closed at least through April 7th. The order will close most businesses, but grocery stores, gas stations, and pharmacies will stay open. Illinois had 585 cases of COVID-19 as of Saturday afternoon, a jump of 163 cases since Friday.
In North Carolina, 6458 people have been tested for COVID-19. 294 cases have been confirmed. Mecklenburg County has 77 cases. Durham and Wake counties aren't far behind. In our area, Lincoln, Gaston and Catawba counties all have at least one confirmed case. Union County has 9; Cabarrus County has 5. The map with this article shows the counties in North Carolina that had confirmed cases as of Friday. Since then, cases have also been confirmed in Hyde, Nash & Pasquotank.
The local newspaper's main headline on Friday (March 20th) posed the question "The new normal?"
There's nothing normal about what is happening. Mankind is communal. We have need of personal contact with other human beings. The lifestyle we're being forced to endure for now because of this disease can't be sustained. Our very civilization depends on surviving this epidemic and returning to a world in which we live together--not apart.
There are two very significant and very real dangers to what is currently happening. The first is that our leaders (either party or both) might use the crisis and the fear it has produced to seize undue power. Martial law is not something a democracy should ever endure. The other is that faced with something bordering on or perhaps becoming fascism, we slip into anarchy.
Many people are already out of work; many others soon will be. This is more than a recession; it's the beginning of what can be and perhaps will be a depression. Recovery will be slow--and painful. Your grandchildren will talk about these years the same way your great-grandparents talked about the 1930s. Crises no bigger than this one slipped the world into World War I, Russia into the Bolshevik Revolution, Germany into Nazism.
No, this is not the new normal...and we can't allow it to become that.