Panic is never helpful. And weak leadership amid a crisis can be disastrous. We have watched the feckless and ignorant governor and his cohorts in Trenton mismanage a crisis with delayed action and then overreaction. Then we watched as he literally dismissed your civil rights making a joke on national TV.

Action and mature decisions are what people need in times of crisis. From the outset of the coronavirus pandemic, cooler heads were pointing to facts about the fast spread of the disease, but the relatively low impact on healthy people. And unlike what we were told, evidence shows that kids are not the big spreaders of the disease.

In Sweden, the government made a decision to keep the economy open and go about business as usual, with some smart changes. They encouraged people to work at home and asked vulnerable citizens to isolate at home. They limited gatherings to less than 50 people and required restaurants to offer table service only. So the country naturally practiced social distancing without a crushing economic blow to families and small business. The result? A flattening of the curve, no run on ventilators or ICU beds.

Sweden is about the same size as New Jersey. Just over 10 million people compared with about 9 million in the Garden State. Sweden has led the way despite harsh criticism and condemnation from the WHO and some medical experts. They stood up for their own people and led the way with smart choices and as a result they are more healthy both physically, and economically than some other nations in Europe and some states in the United States.

+ Smart policy balances the need to protect public health without destroying the economy in the process. And for those critics that want to dismiss Sweden as a ‘socialist’ state, they actually have one of the most open and free economies in the world. Additionally, as many of us have been saying from the beginning, the strategy to isolate young, healthy people instead of focusing on protecting elderly and compromised individuals by quarantining the sick is dangerous to economic stability and individual liberty.

The Swedes have shown the way and whether the politicians like it or not, it seems to have worked. Even in France, where the lockdown didn’t start until March 17, the curve is flattening. Let’s face it, by March 17, most people who were going to have been exposed to the coronavirus were already exposed, according to experts. If we go back to the epidemiologists at Stanford, the same holds true in the United States, where they calculated that millions of Americans have already had the virus, which makes the mortality rate actually potentially lower than the seasonal flu.

Based on the facts of how widespread the virus was even back in January and the fact that we know who the vulnerable people are, there is enough evidence now to develop a new plan for the next time. We know that the government panickers got it wrong on kids being the big spreaders and that has been shown to be true with the Swedish kids all in school. We know that the government panickers did nothing to actually stop the virus as evidenced by the massive spread even with the shut down in place. We know that the initial death estimates were wildly inaccurate and there was never a chance for millions to die. We also know that given the arbitrary nature of the New Jersey shutdown compared to more sensible practices in places like Little Rock, Des Moines and New York State, there are businesses and outdoor spaces that could and SHOULD be opened immediately regardless of the White House plan.

The Trump plan is sensible for sure, but it doesn’t address the fact that in New Jersey we are shut down even more dramatically than New York, where the medical crisis is even worse. So the reopening plan should be applied once we step up the level of other states where at least the parks are open. Parks should be opened. Gyms in counties where the infection rate is low and diminishing should be open. If the government wants you to believe you’re safe with a mask, and physical therapy offices are open across the state, then reopen the hair stylists and nail salons in those counties as well.

We have a governor and legislature continuing to talk about the shutdown instead of talking aggressively about opening up the economy and lifting the unnecessary ‘stay at home’ order. In states like Pennsylvania where they have a legitimate two-party state, there is a battle between the governor who shut down the state and the legislators who want to reopen. That battle will likely produce compromise which will have our neighbors economy up and running long before ours. That said, we are suffering the consequences of a one party state led by social progressives who do not value economic freedom and certainly have a disdain for civil liberties.

Our job now is to continue to push facts over fear and remind the hundreds of thousands of working families in New Jersey who have been devastated by the shutdown that their vote in November 2021 matters. It’s time to elect leaders in our state who care about people and value our American culture and freedoms. It’s time to throw out the rich elites who have done nothing to safeguard our lives and livelihoods.

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Bill Spadea is on the air weekdays from 6 to 10 a.m., talkin’ Jersey, taking your calls at 1-800-283-1015. The opinions expressed here are solely those of Bill Spadea.

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