No JFK for Seattle...
No JFK for Seattle... littleny/gettyimages.com

This was bound to happen. New York's governor Andrew Cuomo included Washington in the latest round of its banned states. (Yes, not banned banned, but the order for travelers to self-quarantine for two weeks when visiting New York amounts to a ban).

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Why was Washington dumped into the same ugly hole as Florida, a state that has a virus fire like nobody's business? We can be a little mean and say that, in truth, Inslee has done a good job, but nothing like a great job. Washington could easily be in total control of the virus, but under Inslee the state has settled for commonsensical management of the pandemic by compromising with the business interest, rather than eradicating the virus by fully engaging with it as a clear and present danger.

To be fair, Cuomo is in much the same situation. He, like Inslee, is under great pressure from the right—and from the business community that the right 100% represents—to totally reopen his state's gigantic economy. But here is where Cuomo surpasses our good-but-not-exceptional Inslee: He knows banning Washington is not about hurting the state's feelings. It's about something bigger than that, something Inslee has, again and again, failed to grasp.

Cuomo is bringing some reality to air travel in the US. This reality says to Americans, many of whom are slow to be up on things: What the fuck you are doing in planes in the first place? Where the fuck are you going, mate? There is a fucking pandemic. Stop this stupidity. Stay away from planes and airports. Stay your ass home.


Inslee and his people have been shaken to the core by Cuomo's decision. They are in a state that's perfectly described in the chorus of a tune, "Whispers in the Deep," by the legendary South African blues band Stimela: "I missed it, I cannot understand it."

State Health Officer Dr. Kathy Lofy's first response to the New York ban:

I’m not exactly sure how NY is doing their calculation.

Our 7-day rolling average of cases is current 627 cases / day.

This translates to 8.36 cases/100K population.
So, our numbers are lower than NY is showing. We believe they are basing their decision on incorrect or incomplete information.

And then later, also from Dr. Lofy:

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The criteria for being placed on the travel advisory list differ somewhat from how Washington assesses these trends. These states [i.e. the 31 for which NY is issuing this travel advisory] appear to be looking at total positive lab results per 100,000 population reported over a 7-day period, while Washington assesses our new case incidence by assigning new cases to date of symptom onset. Washington is experiencing significant growth in COVID transmission, and this announcement underscores this fact.

See, for them plane travel is just fine. It can still go on as if things are the same as they've always been. We must take a balanced approach. That sort of humbug.

But planes should not be transporting people from one state (on fire or not) to another (on fire or not). Also, people should stay home. And the state and federal government should financially support workers during the public emergency. And people must wear masks in public, be it outdoors or indoors. Nothing else works. There is no other way to stop Americans from being, to use the words of Stimela once more, tributaries "to this great river of pain."

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