I have been cautious regarding issuing statements in regards to the current COVID-19 pandemic. I have voiced concerns regarding clarity and consistency of communication and encouraging mental and physical preparedness during times such as these. I have not wanted to get in the way of official communication. However, as the Commissioner-elect, I would like to make the following clarifying statements:
• COVID-19 is real. It isn’t a hoax. Statistics show that the virus is persistent and serious. I personally know several people that have been seriously impacted by this illness. One person I know has died from it. Even though the death rate in Indiana is down compared to earlier this year, there is no denying the serious complications that this virus can cause. We must remain focused on what was our original goal, to ensure healthcare providers do not go over capacity and reducing the test positivity rate.
• We cannot rely on the government. I have many concerns regarding the constitutionality and prudence of “essential vs. ‘non-essential'” business shutdowns, the threat of jail time and fines for not wearing masks or opening a non-essential business, the lack of a special session of the general assembly and a messaging strategy that has been criticized by many for its inconsistency and timeliness. The government has no business picking winners and losers and dubbing some businesses essential and others non-essential. One of the findings of the recent CDC study conducted in our area found that many demographic groups have been placed more at risk due to messaging that inadvertently pitted groups against each other. This cannot continue.
• Crisis fatigue can cause us to become lax in following basic guidelines. Wash your hands. Use hand sanitizer. Stay home if you feel sick or have come in close contact with someone who is sick. Wear quality masks that actually work. Use your personal best judgment when it comes to engaging in large groups. Personal responsibility is a key component of a liberty-oriented philosophy. We must resist the urge to become contrarian for its own sake. When we begin to use the force of government, it often muddies the issue and creates animosity and resentment. Education and providing clear information in the form of guidelines as early as possible can allow for much wider community adoption.