The disease experts and the panic-pushing media initially scared the pants off California’s 40 million people with their predictions about the death toll of the coronavirus pandemic.

They said 25 million people in the state would become infected by COVID-19 and a million of us would die from it.

Predictably, the experts’ computer models were way off the mark, thank goodness.

Compared to devastated states like New York and New Jersey, California has been relatively unscathed by the coronavirus pandemic.

So far about 3,000 people in the state have tragically died from the coronavirus – almost half in nursing homes and long-term care facilities.

More than half of California’s deaths – 1,663 – have been here in Los Angeles. And about 25 of the state’s 57 counties have had one or zero fatalities.

California’s good fortune didn’t stop Gov. Gavin Newsom from torturing everyone in the entire state for two months with a strict shutdown that closed nonessential businesses and 280 state beaches and parks.

And now, as he works to gradually reopen the state, he’s come out with a detailed, four-phase, open-ended “roadmap” for that looks like it’s going to prolong everyone’s agony.

The good news is that Newsom has kindly reopened the beaches and state parks.

But he and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti have laid down a bunch of rules that will make living in L.A. about as enjoyable as living in a prairie dog hole in the Mojave Desert.

If you go outside your home to walk your dog, ride your bike or perform some other “essential” task, you have to wear a mask.

If you enter a retail store or stop at curbside pickup, you have to wear a mask.

And if you’re on a hiking trail, a golf course or a beach, you have to wear a mask – though not when you’re in the water.

The dumbest and most scientifically dubious social-distancing rules apply to California’s beautiful beaches.

You can walk, run, surf or swim at the beach, but you can’t sit on the sand and sunbathe. No standing around, either. Forget the coolers, chairs, umbrellas, Frisbees and footballs. And no parking in the lots by the beach.

This week we were told the bad news by the city that its stay-at-home orders and strict mask rules will remain in place for another three months.

Because the mayor figured that might be depressing news for mentally fragile citizens, he announced that the city has set up a suicide hotline where they could seek help.

Garcetti doesn’t get it and never will.

But there are millions of perfectly sane Americans, like me, who think going out and risking a COVID-19 infection is better than spending the rest of your life in your house.

We know the odds of getting hospitalized or dying are extremely low, and as adults in what’s supposed to be a free country we’d like to be able to choose to take the risk.

Garcetti obviously doesn’t think that way.

He said the city’s tougher rules are necessary to help slow the spread of the coronavirus and that wearing our masks “will help us get more freedoms.”

Don’t tell the mayor, but I don’t think we need to please him so he’ll give us back the freedoms we used to have.

Despite abuse we’ve suffered from over-cautious and power-grabbing politicians, Californians have done pretty much what they have been told to do – so far.

But the statewide economic shutdown should have been relaxed weeks ago. The curve has been flattened by social distancing and our healthcare system was never overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients.

It’s inevitable that many more people are going to die from the coronavirus. Developing a vaccine could be a year away – or never – and achieving zero deaths is a fantasy.

So unless California and the rest of the country isn’t quickly and safely reopened, the coronavirus is going to end up killing more businesses than people.

Copyright 2020 Michael Reagan. Michael Reagan is the son of President Ronald Reagan, a political consultant, and the author of “Lessons My Father Taught Me: The Strength, Integrity, and Faith of Ronald Reagan.” He is the founder of the email service and president of The Reagan Legacy Foundation. Visit his websites at and Send comments to [email protected]. Follow @reaganworld on Twitter.
Mike’s column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate. For info on using columns contact Sales at [email protected].

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