Op-Ed: Sen. Rick Scott
July 2, 2020
One of the strengths of America is its individualism – rugged individualism. Americans cherish the right to run our own lives and make our own choices. Even during a crisis, we can’t forget the fundamental freedoms that undergirded our country’s founding.
I understand the need to do no harm to others. That’s why I’ve consistently and vocally urged people in Florida and across the country to wear masks, social distance and stay home as much as possible. People ignoring these warnings are being selfish – they’re not only putting their own health at risk, but also the health and well-being of their families, friends and coworkers.
In a free society we have the right to act stupid, and we tend to regularly exercise that right. But if you are ignoring commonsense precautions, you are not only endangering yourself and others, you are also prolonging the economic pain for this country. If we want to get our country open again, get people back to work and get our economy to kick into gear, Americans must heed warns to take this threat seriously.
In the end, elected officials must trust the American people and value their right to make their own decisions and be responsible for their own outcomes.
If you listen to the press, they want our government to mandate face masks and shut down our economy again because of spiking coronavirus cases. This would be a huge mistake and could take us from a recession to a depression. Re-closing our economy can only be supported by people who know virtually nothing about how the American economy works and people who do not know what it is like to struggle to pay the bills.
My mom had an eleventh-grade education and my adopted dad a sixth-grade education. We were poor, but not dumb. My parents had common sense.
Here’s what we need from government: the facts. Our elected leaders need to be more forthcoming and quit caring about whether the press says they are doing a great job.
Federal and state health agencies need to give out more information on the existing medical conditions of those getting sick, who is recovering and what the long-term effects of the coronavirus are. We need to know how our doctors are coming with finding therapeutics that work and where are we on the vaccine. Treat us like we are knowledgeable and all in this together, since we are.
At the state and local level, tell us the geographic areas where we are seeing the virus spread, the businesses who have had employees and customers test positive and what they are doing about preventing any future spread. If you know gyms, bars, nail salons, nursing homes are spreaders, tell us and we will avoid them. Tell us which flights have had employees or passengers test positive and which airlines are refusing to enforce social distancing policies. The more information we have, the better decisions we will make.
Give the American people the benefit of the doubt that we care about our families, friends and co-workers.
When I was governor and we had hurricanes, my job was to get everyone good information so they could make good decisions for their families. And they did. They evacuated, stocked up on necessities and went to shelters. When we had the Zika health care crisis, we told everyone where we saw local transmission. The public stayed clear of those locations and the businesses and homeowners made changes.
Politicians and government officials haven’t done a good enough job getting the American people the information they need. The CDC and WHO have given out conflicting information on the efficacy of masks. Public officials were promoting mass protests and downplaying the public health risk while refusing to allow people to go to church. Democrat politicians spent weeks calling anyone who warned about this serious threat from Communist China a racist.
Our elected leaders can’t sugar coat where we are. Give us the facts and what they believe we need to do to beat this. The American people will make the right decisions for their families. We will hold each other accountable. Our businesses will figure out how to keep employees and customers safe.
The American people just want to get back to work, to school and to church and they don’t want the government to tell them what to do.
Together we will beat this, just like we always do.
Republican Rick Scott represents Florida in the United States Senate. He is the former governor of Florida.