MINOT, N.D. — Is Gov. Doug Burgum making the right decision in moving ahead with re-opening North Dakota's society starting May 1?
We're about to find out.
This humble observer is given comfort by the number of people he's ticking off.
It's kind of pathetic that we have shoehorned even a global pandemic into our ceaseless, ubiquitous left-right bickering, but here we are.
As the WWII bombers used to say, you get the most flak when you're over the target.
Burgum is under fire from the right, even elected members of his political party, for supposedly tyrannical policies shutting down businesses and restricting activities. State Rep. Luke Simons (R-Dickinson) called Burgum a "dictator."
The governor is also taking some rotten tomatoes from the left. As he began announcing his "smart restart," the Democrats sent out a press release communicating an almost transparent desire for the restart to go poorly so they can blame it on Burgum.
"The governor said today he's fine taking greater risks with the health of North Dakotans, and we hope people don't get sick or die as a result," Democratic-NPL chairwoman Kylie Oversen said in the release.
I won't say that Oversen is hoping people die, exactly, but it sure seems like she'd be tickled if we saw a spike in coronavirus cases her party could take rhetorical advantage of. Which is ghoulish, sure, but de rigueur for partisan hacks who have forgotten that politics is ultimately about making good policy for our society, not just scoring points on the other side.
Here's the thing: We're going to see a spike in cases.
How could we not? Not only will our state's businesses be returning to some semblance of normal operations, dramatically increasing the number of personal contacts any given North Dakotan has in a day, but we're also in the process of ramping up testing for the virus.
Instead of hundreds per day, we'll soon be doing thousands.
This means more opportunity for the virus to spread, and a larger window through which to see that spread.
That means a spike.
What we need is for the spike to be manageable.
Social distancing and quarantines weren't intended to stop the spread of COVID-19 so much as slow it down so that our health care workers could keep up.
We've done that.
Some credit goes to Burgum and his administration for their adroit handling of this situation, but most of it goes to the majority of the public who took this thing seriously.
North Dakota has been among the national leaders in testing — we were 6th, per-capita, as of April 27 — yet our state had the 5th lowest rate of positives.
We're currently using just one percent of the hospital resources made available to combat COVID-19.
Now is the appropriate time for some risk, whatever the gadflies and the political cranks might have to say about it.
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Rob Port, founder of SayAnythingBlog.com, is a Forum Communications commentator. Reach him on Twitter at @robport or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.