Phil Berger Tries to Score Political Points

Infectious disease expert: Phil Berger is wrong about reopening

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As you’ve probably heard by now, North Carolina Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger has been sticking to his irresponsible Trumpist position on reopening the state of late, even as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage. Berger, who has made a point of cynically pandering to the ill-informed, far right base by attacking Gov. Cooper at every opportunity, recently issued a statement demanding that Cooper open barbershops and beauty salons.

It has, of course, been common knowledge among people paying attention that Berger’s position is utterly indefensible. A spokseperson for the Democratic Party put it accurately this way last night:

“The coronavirus outbreak has taken more than 80,000 American lives and continues to spread across our country. The day Phil Berger earns a degree in medicine, science or public health is the day we’ll take his thoughts on this pandemic seriously.”

Still, it was nice to see further and powerful confirmation of this truth on the front page of a major newspaper in Berger’s neck of the woods. This is from the lead story in this morning;’s Winston-Salem Journal, which is entitled “Are we ready for more reopening? No, says Baptist Health expert.”:

An infectious disease expert with Wake Forest Baptist Health says we’ll likely have to wait a while longer to visit hair salons and gyms or dine-in at restaurants, given the state’s continued increase in COVID-19 cases.

Thursday, Dr. Christopher Ohl said he does not think North Carolina, and specifically Forsyth County, are ready to transition to Phase 2 of reopening — which would allow limited opening of gyms, indoor worship services, restaurants and bars, barbershops, hair salons and other businesses still closed under Gov. Roy Cooper’s executive order.

“Going into Phase 1 was like putting your toe into the water,” Ohl said. “It’s not looking like we’re on the right path.”

The article continued:

According to the governor’s plan for reopening the state, the earliest North Carolina could enter Phase 2 would be May 22. While N.C. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen has previously said the state could revert to the stricter stay-at-home guidelines, the governor is facing political pressure from Republicans in the General Assembly and on the Council of State as well as from protesters to fully reopen the state and restart the economy….

Ohl said he thinks the earliest the state could enter Phase 2 would be the end of May, and even then it would likely be a modified Phase 2, with outdoor dining and more outdoor activities, such as playgrounds, more likely to be allowed.

Berger is not an unintelligent man. And that’s what makes his cynicism so especially maddening. He’s got to know in his heart that Cooper and the experts like Dr. Ohl and HHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen are right and that they are, if anything, doing their best to push the envelope. Unfortunately, like the con man in the White House, he’s decided that he’d rather try to score political points than do everything possible to help save lives.

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