In a March 20th editorial in the National Review, Roy called for “a quick date certain” to “save our economy” by ending the social distancing protocols for COVID-19. Picking a “Coronavirus D-Day” is, according to Roy, “The most important thing we need to do — right now.”
Even though President Trump himself has backed off from his initial desire to “open the country up” by Easter, and is urging Americans to “stay at home and save lives,” Roy has doubled down on his foolhardy plan, tweeting on April 3rd that “We must announce a date to signal our economic restart,” and demanding the country abandon social distances protocols immediately:
— Chip Roy (@chiproytx) April 3, 2020
It’s clear we will eventually need to lift stay-at-home orders. But the consensus from healthcare professionals and epidemiologists is also clear: lifting stay-at-home protocols too early will worsen and lengthen the devastation of COVID-19—including its economic impact. Changes to social distancing policies must be carefully weighed, and shouldn’t be made at all until we have better data about the spread of the disease.
Yet despite this clear advice, and despite the horrific examples we can see unfolding in other countries that have not locked down, Roy is remarkably vague about when his “Coronavirus D-Day” should be scheduled, or how it should be calculated. “Perhaps that date should be around April 1,” he mused at the end of March. “Perhaps it should be April 15.” Any pertinent details are irrelevant to Roy; he just wants a date, fast: “In consultation with our nation’s health experts, the federal government must announce a date within the coming weeks, no later.”
Perhaps Chip himself ought to consult “our nation’s health experts,” who have warned that COVID-19 will kill between 100,000 and 240,000 Americans, even with social distancing measures. Ending those measures “within coming weeks, no later,” is at best a pipe dream and at worst a reckless, suicidal proposal. Either way, it is unhelpful, and serves only to distract from the real work of managing this crisis.
“Date certain,” Roy’s official-sounding term for his imaginary COVID-19 victory party, is a legal term used to refer to a contractually binding date. But viruses don’t sign contracts. They aren’t impressed by legal jargon or WWII references.
“All our national leaders need to work to ensure that we have the medical challenges of the pandemic under control,” Roy wrote in the National Review, “and that we can quickly bridge the financial gap before us. We cannot achieve success without declaring a D-Day for the coronavirus, and marshaling all our collective energies toward restarting our economy.”
As usual, Chip wants to talk like a leader, but expects others to do the hard work.