Rantz: Coronavirus quarantines are starting — is Seattle next?

Mar 16, 2020, 7:36 PM | Updated: Mar 17, 2020, 9:19 am
Seattle coronavirus washington shelter in place, local media, seattle times...
(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

The United States and Europe are starting to see coronavirus quarantines. Is Seattle next? I obviously don’t know for certain, but I think so. And you shouldn’t panic.

San Francisco officials instituted a sweeping, radical “shelter in place” order, asking that people stay indoors, except in cases to purchase groceries, medicine or for doctors appointments.

The move came after increased concern over the spread of the coronavirus. While it’s not the kind of quarantine you see in Italy, it was a fairly unprecedented move.

Will Washington see coronavirus quarantines?

Governor Jay Inslee has slow-walked a series of measures to mandate social distancing to protect our most vulnerable populations from contracting the coronavirus. It seems like a more substantial quarantine is coming.

First, we saw a ban on social gatherings above 250 people, before it was knocked down to 50+ after new CDC guidance. Inslee announced a ban on sporting events, concerts and the theater in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties, before extending it to movie theaters, gyms, and more, and then pushing it statewide.

We first saw school closures in three counties, before quickly closing schools across the state. And of course, the ban on restaurants and bars came after hints of more substantial restrictions.

Rather the announce several monumental life changes at once, Inslee announced them slowly, while always hinting that there’s more to come. There’s more to come.

Reality of coronavirus quarantines

Closing businesses will, of course, hurt people financially during the coronavirus quarantines wherever they occur. We should demand of our government — be it local or national — for a plan to help those most impacted financially within the coming days.

But when you think about the sheer practicality of a quarantine, it very clearly could be much worse.

When we think of quarantines, our minds go directly to movies like Outbreak, The Invasion, Contagion or even World War Z — all movies you shouldn’t watch right now, even if you’re looking for something to do while in a self-quarantine.

It’s instructive to look at San Francisco, instead.

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In the San Francisco coronavirus quarantine, you’re not ordered to stay in your home for three weeks straight. You may leave for essential travel for grocery runs or doctors appointment. Public services like sanitation will still operate. Banks will remain open. You can even go exercise, according to the Associated Press.

And keep in mind, while home, you have access to communication with loved ones. You can call, text, Skype and email. You won’t be cut off from the world because of technology. It’s 2020.

You can binge watch all seven seasons of Veep, finally read the books you never have time to, or even learn a new language. A host of wide release films have even been put up on video on demand, early, so you can have even more entertainment beyond Netflix and Hulu.

In other words: This could be worse.

New York coronavirus quarantine update.

On CNN Tuesday morning, New York City Mayor bill de Blasio explained he is “absolutely considering” a shelter in place order similar to the one in San Francisco, per Mediaite.

“We’re absolutely considering that,” de Blasio told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota. “Right now we have taken a series of steps to reduce the number of people who are circling around … but we’re going to look at all other options, and it could get to that for sure. It could get to that for the whole country.”

Bottom line

I don’t mean to downplay the seriousness of coronavirus quarantines. Financially, it will create anxiety. There’s no way getting around it. But I believe the Trump administration and the Inslee administration will announce plans to help relatively shortly.

But I do mean to assuage concerns from people who think of a quarantine in terms of what they see in movies. The very idea could cause panic. Do not panic.

Ideally, we won’t have any coronavirus quarantines. Want to help prevent one? Actually socially distance and listen to public health officials. Heed their warnings.

If Inslee ends up announcing coronavirus quarantines, it’s to protect very specific, vulnerable populations. The overwhelming majority of your friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers will be fine if they get the coronavirus.

This would be a move to protect a small percentage of people. And some slight inconveniences are worth the lives we’d save in any of the potential coronavirus quarantines.

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3-6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here. Follow @JasonRantz on Twitter.

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Rantz: Coronavirus quarantines are starting — is Seattle next?