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Sen. Mike Groene

Sen. Mike Groene

District 42

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Column 4/30/2020
April 30th, 2020

To come to a position on the present COVID-19 crisis, I looked at the latest available 2018 Nebraska’s annual death statistics. 16,906 Nebraskans died that year; deaths due to unnatural causes included 235 from falls, 248 motor vehicle accidents, 35 from homicide, 140 from poisonings and 271 from suicide. All of these deaths would be preventable if the government confiscated step ladders, closed the roads, took away knives/guns/blunt objects, outlawed alcohol/raw vegetables/prescription drugs and forced all citizens to have a personal psychiatrist. Normally we would consider those recommendations foolish, but in the present political atmosphere, not so much. In contrast, examples of those dying from natural causes include cancer (3,513), chronic lung disease (1,063), heart disease (3,578), Alzheimer’s (683), diabetes (597) and HIV (10). The medical community has told us that by changing personal behavior, eating well and getting exercise, we can avoid many of those natural causes of death. Again an all-knowing government could further limit our freedoms by regulating or outlawing our personal behavior. This year many of those natural deaths are related to COVID-19.

Thankfully, we now have enough evidence to know the original predictions were vastly overinflated: Children and adults with healthy immune systems are at a minuscule risk of hospitalization or death. Evidence is building that a high percentage of Americans have already been in contact with COVID-19 and we have ramped up the supplies and facilities to address the serious cases.

This is the first time in history that mankind has forcibly quarantined the healthy when nature has struck with a new virus. Historically we have quarantined the vulnerable and those showing symptoms until the healthy have gained immunity. The term is “herd immunity”; the healthy protect the vulnerable by becoming immune and therefore do not become carriers of the virus. From the beginning no one has denied this truth, what the government has done with its economic strangulation policy of isolation is to slow the herd immunity curve down to ensure that medical services are available to the small percentage of vulnerable citizens who are severely affected by the virus. The policy has actually worked too well; hospitals have laid off staff in elective surgery areas, threatening the health of those needing medical procedures. Hospital beds are empty and in our attempt to avoid a sprint race with the virus, it has become a marathon instead of the middle distance race the policymakers desired.

So, what do we do? The Governor’s decision to allow restaurant and personal care businesses to reopen on May 11th is a good start. It is a relief (I’m still recovering from my original outrage that it was limited in the first place) our freedom of religious assembly will be restored on May 4th.

I am encouraging the Governor to open up outdoor activities. 80% or more of COVID-19 infections can be traced to indoor contacts. The outdoors does not have an HVAC system recirculating the air. We need to allow youth sports activities to commence; the Governor has set a date of May 31st. I have encouraged him to allow teams to practice earlier so games can begin on the 31st.  Game and Parks needs to allow camping at our state parks; there is no evidence that the limited human contact at campsites is any more contagious than at a Walmart, plus viruses do not like sunshine and dry winds.

Lastly, North Platte needs to lead the state in opening up community-wide activities. For the past 50 years, Nebraskaland Days has embodied the spirit of Nebraska’s Western heritage and should not miss a beat, of course with precautions. If the professional cowboys cannot come, we have local cowboys who can put on an entertaining rodeo. Imagine if government would have denied the pioneers their destiny on the Oregon Trail because 5% of them would die along the trail.

In perspective: 9 million people died of starvation and hunger-related causes last year. Meanwhile, due to government actions, on American farms fat cattle go unsold, unsalable hogs are being slaughtered and farmers are facing financial hardship. With common sense we can return to fully living life!!!

Contact Sen. Mike Groene: mgroene@leg.ne.gov or 402-471-2729

Sen. Mike Groene

District 42
Room #1107
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
Phone: (402) 471-2729
Email: mgroene@leg.ne.gov
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