People haven’t been quarantining for much longer than a week, and the White House is already starting to pressure for things to go back to “normal.” By normal, they mean restarting businesses and allowing people to gather together again so they can keep the stock market going—and infect each other with COVID-19 in the process. Donald Trump has tweeted, “WE CANNOT LET THE CURE BE WORSE THAN THE PROBLEM ITSELF. AT THE END OF THE 15 DAY PERIOD, WE WILL MAKE A DECISION AS TO WHICH WAY WE WANT TO GO!”

This seems to signal plans to lift federal guidelines on social distancing, meaning a lot of people will have to make the choice to return to work on their own.

There probably are lots of people who would like to return to work, but as many scientists and doctors have pointed out, this will lead to more contaminations and deaths. Trump and his administration seem to be suggesting that a million people dying is worth it if it brings the stock market back up. That will make Trump feel good and also make it more likely he’ll be reelected. Some people suspect that the administration thinks they’ll lose less money by letting people die, and that’s their priority:

The president’s message has been picked up by his Republican sycophants, like Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who has horrified people by appearing on Fox News with Tucker Carlson to suggest older Americans make peace with getting coronavirus and dying to allow younger Americans to keep maintaining the economy.

“Let’s get back to living… And those of us that are 70+, we’ll take care of ourselves,” he said. “I’m going to do everything I can to live. … Our biggest gift we give to our country and our children and our grandchildren is the legacy of our country, and right now, that’s at risk. … I think we can get back to work.”

“No one reached out to me and said, as a senior citizen, are you willing to take a chance on your survival in exchange for keeping the America that all America loves for your children and grandchildren? And if that’s the exchange, I’m all in.”

“So you’re basically saying that this disease could take your life, but that’s not the scariest thing for you,” said Carlson, asking, “There’s something that would be worse than dying?”

“Yeah,” replied Patrick.

Wow. Okay, so let’s assume that younger people are okay with their grandparents and parents dying so they can work at McDonald’s again. Patrick likely will be fine. He has a prestigious job, can likely make choices about who he comes into contact with, and has health insurance. Guess who doesn’t? A huge portion of American citizens who will be unable to make any decisions about their risk level at all, because they’ll be exposed all over the place.

People were rightly horrified by Patrick’s comments:

At the moment, these deaths still seem hypothetical to a lot of people, though more casualties of COVID-19 are starting to appear, including young people who have died unexpectedly. As the weeks go on, this is all going to start to be much more real.

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*First Published: March 24, 2020, 7:14 am