Cassidy Morrison of the Washington Examiner reports on the impact of unclear messaging from federal and state officials about the justification for economic lockdowns.

A lack of clarity about the purpose of stay-at-home orders and mixed messages from federal and state government officials have confused the public, contributing to social-distancing fatigue.

“I think there’s been a real lack in clarity as to the goals, which the orders have clear, but it’s not been clear for people about why they’re supposed to do it,” said Dr. Suzanne Judd, an epidemiologist at the University of Alabama Birmingham’s School of Public Health.

In widely watched coronavirus task force briefings, starting in mid-March, the coronavirus task force asked people to self-isolate for two weeks, and then another month, to “Slow the Spread.”

Around the same time, a grassroots campaign to “flatten the curve” took off, a goal understood to mean slowing the spread of the virus so that fewer people are sick at one time and the hospital system can care for everyone without becoming overwhelmed.

Weeks later, the U.S. as a whole has flattened the curve. The rate of new hospitalizations is down thanks to social distancing efforts. Hospital systems have not been overwhelmed.

Yet a majority of states have not withdrawn shelter-in-place orders, causing confusion about what the goal behind the orders is. …

… Public support for state stay-at-home orders remains strong, but has slipped in recent weeks. About 62% of Americans say reopening the country too quickly is not worth it because more people would die, according to ABC News/Ipsos polling from May 8. Polling from April 24 showed that 72% of Americans were more worried about moving too quickly rather than too slowly to reopen the country.

The primary public policy debate in North Carolina today involves the pace of Gov. Roy Cooper’s phased reopening of the state’s economy. Follow Carolina Journal Online’s continuing coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic here.