The following transcript was verified as accurate by multiple sources high in state government. However, the text was provided on the assurance of anonymity, not just for the sources, but also for the state.
Governor (G): Thanks for your quick response in joining today's video teleconference. My chief of staff (COS) would like us to consider taking further, strong action in this ongoing crisis. And I would like your input.
Chief of Staff/Political Adviser (COS): Thanks Mr. G. Our focus groups have provided new results. The voters will strongly support leaders that provide strong action against the Wuhan virus and will strongly disapprove of those leaders who take minimal action. They believe a total state lock down is the right approach to save lives, and that voluntary social distancing is just inadequate. I think we should follow California and New York's example and order a full lock down immediately.
Attorney General (AG): Unfortunately, our state law does not permit us to legally order widespread, indiscriminate business closures where there has not been a disaster or imminent disaster with significant loss of life or property. Likewise, we do not have the authority to curtail citizen movement.
COS: Well, that's one opinion. Mr. G's political advisers all believe that the media are going to tear into President Trump for only making recommendations when martial law could have saved lives. We know how effective the media is when it acts in concert against a politician. We also believe they will blame Mr. G if significant numbers of people die or they see deaths in an overcrowded hospital and G has not ordered a full lock down. Mr. G, and all of you, won't be able to get enough votes to win your local dog catcher election.
AG: Well, I guess we can quote the State Disaster Code title and number, and make the pronouncement look official. I think Dallas County in Texas did that. We just leave out quotes on relevant passages--that is, the measures we make up that don't exist in the law. Even if somebody files in court against the order, I doubt any judge is going to risk their position and halt our actions. And I doubt any journalists will even bother reading the code.
Secretary of Health (Health): Like our Disaster Response Laws, the Health Emergency Laws only allow shutdowns and quarantines when there is evidence or expectation of serious contagion. Besides that, we've only had a few tens of cases, mostly in our few cities, and a single death. Nearly 90% of our counties are rural. Because of existing social distancing and hygiene actions, I and our other doctors believe the spread of the virus will be slow. We don't anticipate high deaths or hospitals being overwhelmed. If we see a surge of cases in a city, it should be enough to lock down that city.
COS: Again, that's one opinion. News reports have indicated up to half our population could catch the virus and up to 1% of everyone that catches it could die....
Health: Interrupting... Those were worst case projections and not likely to happen...
COS: Interrupting... It doesn't matter what is likely to happen. The voters fear the worst, and expect strong measures to stop it. Fear, emotion and appearance matter in politics, not truth and reality.
Secretary of State (State): But our studies show a total lock down will bankrupt 80% of the farms and businesses in the state, cause up to 75% temporary unemployment and maybe 30% permanent unemployment. Our economy will tank, and our citizens will blame us. We won't have enough resources in the state to restart those businesses. The voters will take it out on us at the next election.
COS: That's a common misconception. The media, and of course most of the public, will blame Trump first for taking a weak stand and avoiding strong measures. If the $1,000+ payments to workers and loans for small businesses don't work, the media (and of course most of the public) will blame Trump for not accepting the more draconian measures Pelosi and Schumer are pushing. If there is a deep recession or depression after the crisis is over, they will blame Trump, whether he wins or loses the November election. We'll be in the clear.
G: So, in the short term, we think a statewide lock down is necessary to calm the voters' fears and assure general approval of the way our administration handles this crisis. If it tanks our economy, we hope the fed's payments and loans will bring us out of it. And if they don't, the media will blame Trump anyway. Well, I've heard the Chinese send their viruses all through the Internet, so we need to keep this short. Let's make it so!