Getting back to normal is not possible

Published 6:06 pm Friday, April 17, 2020

President Trump is chomping at the bit to open up businesses and get back to some normalcy. But it’s just not possible without putting the lives of many people across this nation in danger, including Elizabethton.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee was wise to dismiss school for the rest of the year. This COVID-19 pandemic is no where near over. There is still a big threat to communities such as ours. This week a Roan Mountain resident died from the coronavirus. Testing is being done in the community to check the spread. Wednesday, a sunny day with blue skies beckoned people outdoors, especially gardeners. Business was strong at a Roan Mountain hardware. There were reports that store was doing a brisk business as gardeners were buying supplies with little regard to social distancing and that a man in their community had just died of COVID-19.
Sure, seniors will miss graduation, proms, end-of-school trips and other events. But, it is better to forego these events than to put lives at risk.
All it takes are a few bad choices by a few individuals to potentially put dozens of lives at risk.
There aren’t too many people out there who are fully enjoying this whole shelter-in-place thing, whether it be ordered or just recommended.
We miss family gatherings. There isn’t time to catch up with friends in person. No attending church.
It’s difficult not personally interacting with (at least some) co-workers.
We all can’t wait until things get back to “normal.”
But will things ever return to the way they were just one month ago.
A lot of jobs have been lost. Businesses shut their doors. Some of those businesses aren’t coming back. Neither are some of those jobs.
And the work environments of those businesses that emerge intact could permanently change.
We have been warned by the nation’s top doctors — even health professionals in this area — that if we decide too soon that our national and local economies have to be rescued, people will die and those economies will suffer.
Public health officials have told us this again and again about fighting COVID-19. And they have been right. Not the people who insist, even now, that the virus is no worse than the plain old flu. The experts have been right about the need to close schools, to shutter restaurant dining rooms, to stay six feet apart for everyone’s sake. They’ve been right about such measures being necessary everywhere, including states such as Tennessee and in Elizabethton and Carter County despite some who dared to take a risk.
No, public health officials have not been flawless, but they and the governments who acted decisively have saved their states from a president who for weeks delivered a much different message about COVID-19. Governors know their state better than anyone else.
We understand that for most, the reopen movement is fueled by genuine economic fear. People are out of work. Their businesses and dreams are dying, and there are legitimate questions in Tennessee and elsewhere about when the cost of shuttering businesses will outweigh the benefit of continued restrictions.
This week, more robust testing will provide local and state health officials better data about the virus, where and how fast the virus is spreading or abating. Public health officials need better data about the virus to evaluate the risks of bringing people together again.
“Trust us” should not be an option for any state, including Tennessee. Especially now, Americans need to understand why COVID-19 demands sacrifice from us, and why the alternative to those sacrifices remain, at least for the near future, a very dangerous path to take.

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