(WASHINGTON, D.C.) — Indiana Senator Mike Braun says coronavirus lockdowns were too strict from the beginning, but he says his home state is an exception.
Braun (R) criticizes what he calls one-size-fits-all stay-home orders, and argues the distinction between essential and nonessential businesses didn’t make sense. Indiana did both those things for six weeks before allowing nonessential businesses to reopen May 4 in all but three counties. Some businesses, including gyms, movie theaters and bars, remain closed. But Braun says Indiana responded the right way. He says Indiana might have been able to loosen restrictions a week or two sooner than it did, but he says many other states have been “too straitjacketed” and could pay an economic price as a result. He says Governor Holcomb has been attentive to limiting “economic carnage” from the pandemic.
But Braun singles out two of Indiana’s neighbors, Kentucky and Michigan, for what he says are overly strict limits. He takes particular aim at Michigan, a political swing state, for what he calls a “flawed approach” of keeping tight restrictions in place statewide. Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer plans a first step out of lockdown on Friday, allowing businesses to open at half-capacity in the Upper Peninsula and 17 northern counties.
Michigan has the fourth-most coronavirus deaths of any state, nearly half of them in the Detroit area.
Braun says instead of ordering shops considered nonessential to close, governors could have let any business stay open as long as they could enforce social-distancing limits, take hygiene precautions, and protect senior citizens and other customers in high-risk groups.
Braun acknowledges President Trump’s handling of the pandemic has been “reviled by half the country”– Trump for weeks equated the virus to the flu, insisting it was contained and would evaporate quickly. But Braun argues it’s the Centers for Disease Control which squandered six weeks by insisting on developing its own virus test, which turned out not to work. He says the C-D-C exemplifies the “stodgy and slow” bureaucratic response the U-S needs to break out of.
In spite of that, Braun says the administration has “met the challenge” posed by the pandemic, addressing feared shortages of masks, ventilators and intensive care beds.