Opening amid COVID-19

Every crisis breeds its own white hat heroes; conversely, every crisis also breeds black hat scoundrels.

Most will agree that the white hat heroes of the coronavirus pandemic are the health workers—doctors, nurses and anyone who goes to work at a hospital or clinic. The black hat scoundrels are those who lightly dismiss COVID-19 as either a hoax, a conspiracy or an overblown flu. 

The heroes, literally, take their lives into their own hands everytime they report to work. The Hippocratic oath drives physicians, nurses and the army of support staff, to care for those who have fallen ill with the virus. Unfortunately, health care professionals are not immune; across the country many have died. There would be no celebration too elaborate or boisterous to praise and honor the health care workers of 2020.

Those who refuse to take personal responsibility during this pandemic are not taking a stand for personal rights, they are politicizing an issue that is not political. Nature does not take sides–—it doesn’t know conservative from liberal nor populism from tyranny. 

The coronavirus pandemic is not over. The curve may be flattening in some areas, but it is growing in others. Some experts expect another wave of COVID-19 cases in the fall. The bottomline is that we must continue to maintain our protocols from social distancing to wearing masks in public. JetBlue is requiring all passengers to wear masks on all their flights. There are other businesses that should require masks, grocery stores in particular. 

Local grocers have instituted limited numbers of people in their store at one time, they sanitize shopping carts after each use and even try to regulate traffic patterns. There are still far too many shoppers not wearing masks. 

We would be up for opening the economy if we achieved a much higher rate of people taking responsibility for themselves and others by wearing a mask when in public. With more than 20 million Americans filing for unemployment benefits since the start of the pandemic, we can’t go on like this for long. 

Allowing businesses to reopen as well as letting people gather in public spaces again must be accomplished in tandem with assuring everyone follows the new routines. Going to a park is one thing, how long will it be before people feel safe in a theatre? A sit-down restaurant? 

Life has changed due to COVID-19, but if it makes us more caring for others, more conscious of our own hygiene, life after this pandemic may have some lasting societal benefits.

(Lyndon Zaitz is publisher of the Keizertimes.)