Image: The Montgomery County government believed Chinese coronavirus scare tactics, panicked, and flattened the local economy.
The Golden Hammer Staff Reports
Conroe, May 13 – People living in the twenty-first century have grown used to the fact that it’s easy to manipulate statistics and that government agencies often do so for their political advantage. Clearly, the United States Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) early prognostications about Chinese coronavirus illness and fatalities emanated from the desire for federal agencies, such as CDC or Dr. Anthony Fauci’s National Institute of Allergy and Infection Diseases (an agency within the gargantuan Department of Health and Human Services), to gain enormous control over American society.
That’s why distant government leaders viewing those statistics should have looked at them with extreme caution and profound wariness. Unfortunately, that’s not what happened in Montgomery County, Texas.
Montgomery County is a bedrock conservative community located approximately 27 miles north of downtown Houston, the fourth largest city in the United States. Every elected official in Montgomery County is Republican and has been a member of that political party for more than two decades, thanks to the hordes of suburbanite families whom real estate developers brought to the area.
Nevertheless, Montgomery County’s government leadership seems to have panicked in March and strongly overreacted to the COVID-19, also known as Kung Flu, also known as Wuhan virus, scare. Montgomery County’s first confirmation of a Chinese coronavirus case occurred on March 10. Two days later, Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough issued his first “Order Affecting the Occupancy of Premises.” Through the month of March, Keough, by dictates, without clear authority under the Texas Government Code and in violation of the Constitutional rights of Freedom Exercise of Religious Worship and Freedom of Assembly, closed churches, restaurants, bars, salons, gymnasiums, most businesses, and many other types of establishments.
After telling the citizens and the news media that he would never order individuals to “stay-at-home,” because he realized it would be wrong to do so, Keough issued a lockdown or “stay-at-home” order on Friday, March 27, 2020.
Why? Keough had read government reports which frightened with projections of 100,000 cases of Chinese coronavirus in Montgomery County by mid-June and between 1,000 and 5,000 deaths in this community in that same time frame. Unfortunately, Keough didn’t consider the source of those reports, but followed other local officials, such as Houston’s Mayor Sylvester Turner and Harris County’s outlandish County Judge Lina Hidalgo, in taking those onerous actions.
Now, even with businesses beginning to reopen, Montgomery County only has 468 active cases of Chinese coronavirus, has enjoyed 257 recoveries, and has, tragically, suffered 17 deaths. What government officials don’t like to discuss, however, is that the number of economic shutdown-related suicides in Montgomery County has exceeded the number of Chinese coronavirus deaths during the same time period, as State Representative Steve Toth, Republican of Conroe, and others have noted.
In other words, the government response to the Chinese coronavirus was a gigantic over-reaction. It took a bludgeon to a problem which required a scalpel.
With government leaders fearing hospitals overloaded with coronavirus patients, Governor Greg Abbott and others actually ordered hospitals to stop treating many other types of medical problems. The hospitals never became overcrowded. Instead, the hospitals were empty, because they couldn’t treat the medical necessities of patients other than the rare Chinese coronavirus cases which came to them.
Montgomery County officials learned of the first confirmed local Chinese coronavirus case on March 10, 2020. That set off a panic, which ultimately resulted in numerous decisions by Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough, who flattened the local economy, cost this community thousands of jobs, hundreds of millions of dollars in lost business revenue, and unemployment approaching twenty percent (20%).
At the April 28, 2020, Commissioners Court meeting, the discussion began with a cogent presentation from County Budget Director Amanda Carter. Carter noted that weekly unemployment claims emanating from Montgomery County to the Texas Workforce Commission were more than 25 times what they were before the government shutdowns. Meanwhile, the high spending County government, which has failed to apply the breaks to any spending, even for unnecessary and non-essential programs, such as the Convention Center or County Libraries, has failed to heed the admonishments of Texas Governor Greg Abbott to reduce local government spending drastically in order to ease the tax burden on Texas taxpayers.
Carter has predicted a 10-month turnaround from the government-caused recession. Taxation and government spending, however, will never stop.
The County government, under the mandates of Judge Keough, has revealed two strong threads of reaction to the Chinese coronavirus panic:
- First, government panicked. Instead of unnecessarily flattening the COVID-19 curve, as many renowned epidemiologists have noted, government action “flattened the Montgomery County economy,” as Precinct 3 Montgomery County Commissioner James Noack noted. Government severely overreacted. Government created a giant economic mess.
- Second, government ignored the Constitution, the law, and the principles upon which the United States came into existence. Nothing in the Founding Principles of America and nothing in the Constitution warrants suspension of civil liberties in times of crisis (with the one exception being the writ of habeas corpus explicitly excepted in the Constitution during times of rebellion).
Keough and his aides must first fight to end government shutdowns, particularly those still under mandates from Governor Abbott. After they stand up for the rights of the citizens, Keough and his aides must come to terms with the serious mistakes they made in their panicked reaction.