It is time to start opening society and the economy.
Many will agree based on civil liberty. Many will agree for economic reasons. Many will disagree for safety reasons. Many still, will simply disagree out of fear.
I don’t dismiss any of these positions. But it is unfortunate that, even during a time of great concerns over public health and very real economic damage being inflicted on businesses and families alike, our society tends to pit one view against the other. Social, alternative, and mainstream media alike seem more interested in encouraging contemptuous dismissal of differing views than truly listening to all those impacted and finding solutions.
At a time of crisis, really always, evaluations on public policy must be made with varying perspectives. In this case, decisions about how we proceed should not be made unilaterally by scientists and healthcare professionals. Likewise, decision making should not be reserved for economists and business leaders. And no decisions should be made by either without reliable or rigorous data. What is needed is a prudent arbitration of views. In this case, the path leads to reopening.
Why should COVID-19 not hold exclusive priority over our move to normalcy? People are out of work. Families are faced with financial hardships which lead to physical, emotional, drug and alcohol abuse. These factors have negative impacts on families for generations. Some businesses will never be seen again. Students are separated from quality instruction and opportunity. People in need are not receiving critical services. We are beginning to see pressures on our food chain supplies. People are not seeking care for traditional medical issues which left untreated can cause more serious sickness and death. Growing shortages of vaccine supplies for other diseases are anticipated. Loss of revenues to state and local governments is resulting in compromised public services. Citizens are being unlawfully prohibited from access to public resources.
That said, this should not be an unbridled, universal reopening of America. There are clearly areas of our country with greater risks. New York, with an infection rate of over 1217 per 100,000 and 23,232 expected deaths, should be handled differently than South Carolina with a projected infection rate of 136 per 100,000 and 283 expected deaths. Yet the same principles do apply.
There are ways to both follow the guidelines of the scientific and healthcare communities and ensure our long-term economic success. These ways are simple and not in conflict.
#1 If you are of advanced age you should stay home and isolated until this is over. If you have underlying medical conditions that can become dangerous if exposed to COVID-19, you should stay home. If you are simply worried about your personal safety and the safety of your family, you should stay home. If you are sick or feeling poorly, you should contact your healthcare provider or a tele-health provider, follow their guidance, and stay home.
#2 If you are out in public, you should be healthy. Wear a mask. Wash your hands regularly. Disinfect frequently touched surfaces. You should also observe proper physical distancing protocols. This includes avoiding areas where others appear to be ignoring physical distancing protocols. Don’t put yourself or others at risk. Be personally responsible for your actions, and respectful and caring of your fellow man.
#3 If you lead a business, you should implement every possible technique to protect your employees and your customers. Work remotely when possible. For some this will be very easy, for others it may be impossible. For those that cannot safely operate, don’t. For those that can, do. But just as before, be personally responsible for your actions, and respectful and caring of your fellow man.
If we do these things, we can reopen society and achieve more together than we ever could separated. There remain hundreds of thousands of businesses that can safely and effectively operate today. There are hundreds of millions of Americans, that can safety resume some, or all, of their daily activities. And these can be accomplished with little risk.
Sadly, we can not assure everyone will join us on this journey. In their memory however, we can further commit to our ongoing obligation to make this country the shining example to the world.