Let’s not blame local officials for playing it safe in the Age of COVID

By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times @mikemcgannpa

By rights, we should be enjoying the start of a new school year — bragging on our kids, showing off their new clothes and school gear.

In a normal year, we should talking about which high school football teams in the Ches-Mont are early break outs and which programs look to be struggling.

We should, as usual, bemoan the length and stupidity of the election season, but be ready to the last person to show up on Election Day and cast our vote.

We should be excited to see the latest blockbuster movie — best seen in a theater with a big crowd.

All of those things should be happening, but COVID-19 stopped our country in its tracks — and leaders in Washington, D.C. flailed and lied and denied — now 190,000 people are dead (yes, really — that 6% claim is a bunch of crap, about which I will elaborate on further on down).

But instead I see people blaming Gov. Tom Wolf for keeping restaurants to just 25% of capacity and various restrictions — like halting high school sports — and it’s unfair. While Wolf has made decisions at times not everyone agrees with, his quick and aggressive action saved the state from a much worse outbreak.

Wolf didn’t cause COVID-19. Wolf didn’t cause a Presidential failure to respond that made things an order of magnitude worse. Wolf did what he could to keep his state safe — embraced the science, listened to the experts as they learned what this virus could do.

Wolf is not to blame. Even Dr. Deborah Brix, one of President Trump’s point people for battling the virus, lavished praise on Wolf, Thursday, for his swift action to contain the virus. Meanwhile, legislative Republicans continue to have their temper tantrums about Wolf’s actions, no matter how many lives it saved. These people literally don’t care if you or your family die as long their business pals (read campaign contributors) get to reopen, pronto.

That’s what it has come down to.

In the same vein, I see a lot of heat going onto to school boards and superintendents over the decision not to reopen schools for in-person instruction — and it is not fair.

I understand the frustration — it’s not ideal for students and it creates a burden for parents.

If you’re questioning the wisdom of your local school board, take a look at some of our universities.

My kids — Unionville High grads — are sophomores in college. My son Ken found out Thursday none of his classes would be in person for the rest of the semester at Temple, which is now experiencing an outbreak (Pennsylvania is starting to show signs of have a state-wide outbreak, again, by the way — how much worse would it be had schools opened a couple of weeks ago). My daughter is doing better at Nevada-Reno — but it’s hard to have confidence that any university is going to be able to avoid a breakout, seeing U. Alabama, U. North Carolina, Notre Dame and others seeing explosive outbreaks.

I was very hesitant to send them back to school — but I also saw how they struggled in the spring, stuck at home, deprived of their new-found independence. I also knew they would be careful – they wouldn’t be at parties, they would wear masks. But they’d also be dependent on other kids doing the same — which apparently did not happen at Temple.

So, I don’t know how K-12 schools would have fared any better.

When Chester County Health recommended no public school open for in-person instruction before Oct. 9, it was pretty much game over — no school district could ignore the liability problem of opening before local health officials said it was safe.

I know folks are upset that the Ches Mont postponed all sports for the fall season. While many experts suggest that outdoor sports are safer than indoor sports, there’s no guarantee that contact sports — football, soccer — won’t spread the virus. There’s a clear risk.

As I’ve noted here, I felt like the risk was less than the rewards — keep in mind how many kids get hurt playing sports, which we don’t get as exercised about — but I don’t fault anyone who has the responsibility for these kids deciding the risk was too great. I’m sure it was a tough call, and I’m glad I didn’t have to be the one to make it.

And after seeing the reports out of Downingtown about the cheerleading squad — six members of the team tested positive for COVID-19 after attending a cheer camp — I might well have been wrong about restarting high school sports.

The virus is insidious — the way it spreads among the asymptomatic makes it difficult to contain. I can’t – and won’t — criticize any local district or board for making what it sees as the safest choice for its students and the greater community.


There’s a new and utterly fruitcake theory in right-wing circles: only about 6% of reported COVID deaths are really from the disease. The other 94% had a co-morbidity which is what really killed them.

It’s bull crap. Like the claim it only kills old people. Or that kids can’t get it. These are dangerous lies and those who spread them should be ashamed of themselves.

I am a bit overweight and have well controlled high blood pressure (which is wildly common, by the way). Under this theory, were I to contract COVID and die, you can’t count it as a COVID death. Based on actuarial tables, I can reasonably expect to live 25 to 30 more years — even with those two conditions — so I were to get COVID-19 and die, the virus would be to blame.

More than 100 million people — including many spreading this lie — fall in this category in the US. I’m not willing to be a human sacrifice just to make the Chamber of Commerce or The Club for Growth happy.

Are you?


As noted often, President Donald Trump is a font of bad advice. This week, he struck again, advising Pennsylvania voters to vote by mail, and then show up at the polls to check to make sure your vote counted, and if not, vote again.

To be clear, voting twice is a felony, don’t do it. Going to your polling place when you’ve already voted is an unnecessary risk during a pandemic. Fortunately, you can quickly and easily check the status of your ballot — and even find out when it is mailed to you. Navigate to https://www.pavoterservices.pa.gov/Pages/BallotTracking.aspx — it’s quick, it’s easy — and best of all you don’t have to risk COVID-19 or prison to find out whether your vote has been counted.


Have a safe, sane, socially distanced and fun Labor Day!

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