When will ‘Stay At Home, Stay In Place’ end?

Published 4:30 pm Friday, May 1, 2020

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As coronavirus anxiety grows around the country, some cities and states are pressing for an end to social distancing as we know it today.
President Trump said as far as he was concerned, social distancing ended Thursday. It will be up to each state and governor to decide if and when social distancing will end.
Some people are itching to get back into the mainstream of life. They want to eat out, shop, get a haircut, go back to church, and do the things they once did and which was the norm for them.
The growing uncertainties of the economy, and the health and mental state of a nation under siege by an unseen enemy, has understandably pushed many past the breaking point.
So, when do we ease the restrictions and gradually restore life as we once knew it?
Restrictions on restaurants and retail stores were eased this week by Gov. Bill Lee. Gyms were allowed to re-open Friday, and this Wednesday, hair salons, barber shops, nail salons, and spas will be allowed to reopen with some restrictions. It’s a beginning, but a far cry from what once was.
From the testing and analysis gathered so far we know that some cities and states will be able to open for business sooner than others. In Tennessee, testing is being done at a greater pace than other states. This weekend, there will be drive-by testing at Hampton High School today, and Sunday at Unicoi County High School. However, testing is being done every day at the Carter County Health Department.
The American Enterprise Institute recently issued a report by Scott Gottlieb, Caitlin Rivers, Mark B. McClellan, Lauren Silvis and Crystal Watson entitled “National Coronavirus Response — A Roadmap to Reopening.”
Their report suggests that each state must be capable of at least testing everyone who has symptoms. Its authors also estimate that the nation would need to have the capacity to run 750,000 tests a week when the spread of the virus reaches a plateau. There are times we might need even more.
Testing of those potentially infected and surveillance of those without symptoms is the only way to effectively contain outbreaks. Whether a state can reopen for business will depend entirely on its local capabilities. States must be prepared to test every single person who might be infected and return results in a timely manner. That’s a key requirement.
States must also be prepared to monitor confirmed cases and contacts.
A vigorous system of contact tracing and isolation is the only way to prevent an outbreak and more lockdown restrictions from recurring. With each individual positive test, the public health infrastructure must be able to identify those who have been in close contact with the infected, locate those people, and place them in isolation or quarantine until it’s confirmed they aren’t contagious.
This week, three employees and a resident at Ivy Hall were re-tested after testing positive for the coronavirus. Their test readings were negative rather than positive, which was good news not only for the nursing home, but for the residents living there, and the entire community.
However, it is better to be safe than sorry. The risks are so high with this lethal disease, that extreme caution must be exercised on all fronts. Now, Gov. Lee and his health commissioner are taking steps to test all nursing home residents and employees. The Ivy Hall administration did the right thing in taking the lead to test their residents and employees. It was the safe thing to do for their residents.
Before the next phase — organized recovery — can be initiated, decision makers must walk a thin line to make prudent judgment calls. Although the state is making the calls on re-opening the public sector, it really is a personal call. Although some restaurants re-opened this week for eating in, others did not and many individuals feel it is early to make that call for themselves. They also feel it is early for churches to re-open.
Thusfar, in the Northeast Tennessee region, we have not seen the outbreak of the virus that many big cities have experienced. A lot of this can be credited to people staying at home and staying in place and taking the necessary prescribed health precautions such as wearing masks, washing their hands often, etc.
We feel that opening up here in Carter County and Northeast Tennessee is going to be slow and gradual. Before it happens, people must feel safe and comfortable with it.

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