We've been had. The Chinese coronavirus is not nearly as bad or as deadly as advertised, which is a good thing, and now it's time to put our shattered lives and economy back together.

New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell told me on yesterday's program that he doesn't see a re-opening of the local economy on the near horizon. Mitchell says New Bedford has reached a possible plateau in the number of COVID-19 cases but has yet to experience a decrease in new cases.

As of Monday at noon, New Bedford had recorded 506 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 13 virus-related deaths. Only 65 percent of the available beds at St. Luke's Hospital were occupied, according to the mayor. Sounds pretty positive to me.

Mitchell was reluctant to say how long it might be before he would recommend an easing of the local restrictions that have destroyed local businesses while crushing personal investments, incomes, and school calendars. To be fair, many of the local restrictions were actually the result of Governor Charlie Baker's heavy-handed policies. But those policies have had the full support of Mitchell and most on the New Bedford City Council.

Baker needs to lift his statewide order that prevents so-called non-essential businesses and services from re-opening and leave it to the local officials to make decisions about re-opening local communities. Protective measures to safeguard the safety and well-being of the most vulnerable should remain in place but citizens should be allowed to go about their business again should they choose.

It's time for the government to ease off and let the American people begin the process of putting their lives back together.

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 barry@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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