Safe or Sorry?

I understand the frustration.  We basically missed the whole pre-Easter season, not to mention the home opener, and now we’re losing spring.  We fantasize about our favorite restaurants, and remember what it was like to be able to sit in a crowded theater.  We don’t want to be isolated any longer.  Those who are struggling financially just want to go back to work and have a paycheck coming in.

In some states, including Ohio, there’s a rush to “re-open,” supposedly to try to salvage the economic situation.  But it’s not a choice between the economy and physical safety, although the media make it sound as if those are the opposing alternatives.  As Aaron E. Carroll said in Sunday’s New York Times, “The only way to save the economy is to take the steps that will also save lives.”  Those steps being to extend the lockdown until the virus is at least on the downturn, plus implement testing and contact tracing.  Cases in Ohio continue to climb, as does the number of deaths; the supply of tests is woefully inadequate at this time (per the Columbus Dispatch). 

Governor DeWine has only “strongly recommended” that people wear masks in public when the first restrictions are loosened on Friday, and social distancing is still supposed to be the rule.  On May 12, service and retail businesses will be allowed to re-open.  How will that work?  How will distancing be achieved in restaurants, for instance?  Are they supposed to operate at half capacity?  And who’s going to risk eating out?  Pretty hard to consume a meal with a mask on.  Where will employees come from?  While some furloughed or terminated staff may return, it stands to reason that full crews won’t be available, whether people have found other jobs, or are afraid to work, or are sick, or are caring for others.  When, inevitably, the number of infections spikes, what’s the recourse?  We go back to lockdown, OR businesses can’t make it with reduced patronage, and then people who had jobs for a couple weeks are out of work again.  Before they’ve even gotten their retroactive unemployment checks, which have been six weeks in processing, if they were lucky.  None of this has been thought out. 

I have to wonder exactly why DeWine is lifting the lockdown order.  I’m sure that the reason given for public consumption purposes is that the economy has to get back to normal.  That’s the word from all who are clamoring for lockdowns to cease everywhere.  As Carroll points out, however, re-opening states too soon will only lead to more economic distress.  Of course, there has been tremendous pressure from leaders in Washington (looking at you, Mitch McConnell) for governors to get back to business as usual, or forget about financial aid.  Our Ohio governor, being a card-carrying member in good standing of the GOP, must be feeling the push to toe the party line.  He’s going from his original prudent, proactive position to following orders from his superiors. 

We’re being told that, for our own good, we need to get over being afraid for our health and the health of our families, and just go out there in our masks and mingle with our fellow citizens, at six-foot distances.  I think that, for our own good, many of us who can, will keep safe and stay isolated until conditions are better and there are logical plans in place.  In the meantime, we should actually help the people who need it most, and NOT leave them no choice but to scramble back into their jobs as soon as possible.

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