I’m writing to express my strong disagreement with the decision of State Senator Joseph Pennacchio and others to hold a political rally down at the shore on Memorial Day. At the outset, it should be noted that I am a constituent of Senator Pennachio’s, and a Morris County resident, which is why my comments are directed at him specifically.
On what should be a day where we honor our fallen from wartime, and on a day when we should be remembering the nearly 100,000 who have died from the recent pandemic, including more than 10,000 in New Jersey, State Senator Pennachio was leading a partisan political rally against our Governor.
At the rally, some alleged that the 100,000 dead are “fake news” and that the numbers are overinflated. Since this crisis started, an acquaintance from my high school lost her husband, a friend of mine in the Michigan legislature died from the disease, another friend of mine lost her younger brother, and two friends of mine lost their fathers in nursing homes. Several of the victims were in their 40s. it is not fake news. These are real people who have lost their brothers, sisters, spouses, and parents from this virus.
The Governor and those who believe in science have no doubt seen the data, that 10% to 15% of those infected require hospitalization from their infection and that over 1% die after infection. In-state of 9 million, if slightly more than half the people got the COVID virus, that would mean 5 million infections, 500,000-750,000 hospitalizations in New Jersey alone, and 50,000 to 75,000 deaths in our state.
I am grateful that the Governor has taken the drastic actions that he has taken, as his actions have no doubt saved lives and are based upon the best available data and science that he and the rest of our state government have about the disease.
We absolutely must have a robust system of testing, contacting tracing the contacts of those who have test positive, with isolation and treatment for those with the disease. That’s what the epidemiologists and scientists tell us. It is clear that opening it up and pretending we are back to normal without the appropriate measures in place is a recipe for the mass spread of the virus and sadly mass death.
I appreciate the fact that businesses that are non-essential want to open and are hurting. But opening them before we are ready to do so will mean fewer customers if people don’t feel it is safe, and likely to lead to a second lockdown. I too want a haircut and want to go to a baseball game. But I’d rather have long scraggly hair than have someone lose their mother or their spouse because I accidentally gave them the virus at a barbershop or a baseball game.
At a time when the leadership from the White House has been slow, inept, inadequate, and guided by anything but science and data in dealing with this crisis, I am grateful to live in a state where science and math still rule the day.
Chair, Morris County Democratic Committee