At the height of the COVID-19 fright fest, the Mitchell Administration acquired leases for two former nursing homes for use as overflow facilities to house the crush of COVID-19 patients that were anticipated but never materialized. The Baker Administration says it will not fund one of the so-called surge facilities, but Mitchell says the City will retain the City's right as lessee of the property at 4586 Acushnet Avenue just in case.

The hysteria over the coronavirus outbreak back in March was enough for citizens to surrender their cherished rights to heady politicians and public health officials. Freedom of movement, the right to worship freely, and even the right to dissent were quickly given up without so much as a whimper.

The American people were told to prepare for 2.2 million virus-related deaths and to expect a total collapse of the healthcare system. The nation's hospitals we were told would not be able to withstand the weight of demand. Of course, none of this would materialize and money spent on surge centers, medical tents, and floating hospitals would all be a waste. In fact, capacity at most hospitals has never even come close to being reached. As a result, some hospitals have closed and healthcare workers furloughed all across the country.

New Bedford will keep the surge center on Rockdale Avenue open. It has been used, though barely. And the state will continue to fund the never-used center at UMass Dartmouth.

At some point officials at all levels of government are going to have to admit that the COVID-19 crisis, while serious enough, was a bust and never lived up to expectations. Now that is a positive thing for most rational people but for the political class that is driving the response, I suppose it might be a bit humbling.

We've crashed our economy and destroyed many lives in the process but hell, at least all of that training in crisis management was good for something.

Open the economy or get out of the way.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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