I have heard the COVID-19 naysayers, preaching that the government is turning the rest of us into sheep blindly following government orders. In some small way, their sentiment is somewhat understandable.
I have saw the protesters, begging to go back to work. Their plight is much more easy to understand. They need to put food on the family table and keep a roof over their children’s head.
On the other hand, my gut tells me that what everyone needs to do is pay more attention to the local health officials. They may not have all the answers, but they are trying to save lives, and that’s what this stay-at-home order has always been about.
Yes, as it turns out, their projected number of deaths and case numbers have been over-inflated — at least so far. And I know people are tired of being cooped up in their homes, unable to go places they have gone their entire lives. I know people need to go back to work. I know kids are itching to spend more time with their friends, and likely even itching to go back to school and return to their regular routines.
But I’m telling you people, now is not the time for our former routines.
Because we really have no idea what this new coronavirus is capable of. Even the top health professionals worldwide don’t know. So, I’d like to ask — why do you people that are preaching for a sudden return to normalcy think you have the answers? Because you don’t. Nobody on this earth does.
You can say the virus has not proved as destructive as projected. And you would be correct — so far. But what if much of the world had did nothing to contain it? What if much of the world had not observed social distancing? What if we had not stayed at home in large numbers? What if we had not washed our hands, ad nauseam, and covered our coughs?
No one knows those answers. But I will guarantee you more people would have died.
Maybe the vast majority of those who have died were elderly or had an underlying health condition. But does that mean their deaths hurt any less for them and those they love?
What if on May 1 the powers that be decide it’s time for everything to return to what was formerly normal because the economic damage is too much to tolerate any longer?
Would you feel safe walking into a stadium full of thousands of fans sitting shoulder to shoulder? I wouldn’t. I still wouldn’t feel safe this fall when I get the itch to go to an Ohio State football game, or even a high school one.
Some would say that makes me a coward. I would say it makes me cautious and wise.
Whenever we start returning to some state of normalcy — and hopefully it is a slow process — I wonder what will happen.
Will the virus mostly disappear in the warmth of summer like the flu? Will it come back in full force later in the year? Could it come back stronger and more devastating than ever?
We do not know. Is it worth taking the chance?
I don’t have the answers. But I do know that before too long, we have to start moving back toward normalcy.
But now is not the time. Not just yet. We need to dig deep and find a little more patience. Then in a few weeks we can start easing slowly back into things, see how it goes, and tread wisely from there.
I know many of you are hurting financially. I sincerely feel for your situation. I know others our mourning the loss of loved ones. You have my sympathy.
There are others on the front lines of the virus war, putting their lives on the line daily for people they don’t even know, because that’s their chosen profession, and they think it’s the right to do. They have my deepest respect and most sincere gratitude.
We have done better than expected to date, and it would be a shame to waste all the effort. So please, let’s hold the line just a little longer.
Jeff Gilliland is the editor of The Times-Gazette. He can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org or 937-402-2522.