The possibility of US lockdowns – never attempted on this scale in the history of pandemics – was already in the air in early March 2020. The theory of lockdown had been floating around for 15 years but now China was first to try it, and claim enormous success, however fraudulently.
Incredibly, the US was set to try it out too but getting Trump on board was going to take some doing. The federal government had the quarantine power since 1944. That much we knew. But just how expansive could its exercise be? Would they dare quarantine the well with the sick? How far would this go?
Thanks to several journalistic accounts, we have a better idea of what went on in the White House before the dreadful March 16, 2020, press conference of Donald Trump, Anthony Fauci, and Deborah Birx in which the lockdowns were announced. Along with that came a flier with tiny print about which the ever-trusting Trump apparently knew nothing: “bars, restaurants, food courts, gyms, and other indoor and outdoor venues where groups of people congregate should be closed.”
Read those words again. Has anything like this ever been issued by any government in the history of the world, before China did it? I cannot think of a case. It shuts not only the places where people do “congregate” but also everywhere where they might congregate. Churches. AA meetings. Civic clubs. Libraries. Museums. Homes! And this happened under Trump’s watch right here in the US! There ought to be a word to describe something more extreme than totalitarian.