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A rush to reopen the economy could endanger public health

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editorial cartoon by Danielle de Luna

editorial cartoon by Danielle de Luna

As many are urging for the economy to re-open amid the coronavirus pandemic, government officials are facing additional pressures to follow through with these demands. 

It is still crucial that we continue social distancing measures to prevent an increase in deaths across the nation. 

And without dramatically increased testing, contact tracing, and other measures that have allowed countries such as South Korea to get a handle on the virus and slowly re-open, it may be too soon for most US states and cities to re-open. 

There is still a lot that we do not know about the virus. 

There is some evidence that the virus has mutated, and the full scope of symptoms is still not fully understood. 

Although most who contract the virus will recover from it, those who suffer with compromised immune systems, or pre-existing conditions such as diabetes are at much greater risk.

Since the virus was first detected in the United States three months ago, the numbers have been growing exponentially to more than 1.3 million people infected and more than 77,000 dead in the United States alone. 

Hospitals have been flooded and basic resources have been drained – even with strict shelter-in-place mandates in most states.

To re-open non-essential businesses at this point for the sake of the economy could move us back to where cases of COVID-19 begin to increase exponentially. 

That would send us back into lockdown, in a vicious cycle. 

And it wont fix the economy. It will just trigger a huge uptick in infection and push the country further into a depression.

‘Testing, testing, testing,” as the sober and scientifically-based legislators and medical experts keep saying. Testing is our best chance of getting back to some sense of back-to-normal. 

Until testing is available to all communities, we need to be patient. 

Protestors too stubborn to listen to the advice of medical professionals have already caused minor surges in coronavirus cases, such as in Frankfort, Kentucky, at the end of last month. Ignoring the policies put in place for the safety of the community at large will only lead to further damage across the nation, and opening the economy too soon will do the same. 

As a community, we should remember we all have the same goal, which is to get back to our lives as we once knew them to be. 

For now, however, sheltering in place – until the disease is under adequate control, until we have testing, and ultimately a vaccine is what we can all do to do our part in this mess.

We owe that to our fellow community members and loved ones.

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