Let me preface this column by saying I am not a medical expert, and my intention here is not to give my “professional opinion” about anything concerning the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. With that being said, it is clear to me that a large chunk of our population is simply no longer concerned about any potential threats that the virus still poses. It’s just an observation, so interpret it however you wish.
My family and I spent a few days in the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge area of Tennessee last week, and before you start telling me how stupid I am for going to a place like that at a time like this, allow me to explain. We rented a cabin, so we were mostly just around each other. We did go out to some restaurants and entertainment venues during our time there, but if we thought we were going to be around a lot of people, we took our masks with us. We tried to get out and do things earlier in the day to avoid larger crowds whenever possible, and when lots of people were around, we tried to keep our distance as best we could.
The point is, even though we took a vacation, we still remained aware of the situation concerning COVID. We were in desperate need of getting away and having some fun, but we didn’t want to put anyone in serious danger in the process. Many of the people that I saw while down there, though? Well, let’s just say they didn’t seem to be overly worried about it.
To be fair, there were a lot of folks wearing masks, but the majority were not. Luckily, pretty much all of the businesses seemed to be making at least some effort to reduce the risk of transmission, either with floor markings to encourage physical distancing, requiring employees to wear PPE, making an extra effort to sanitize, or all of the above.
Business owners all over the country have suffered enough already during this crisis, with many being forced to close their doors for good. For this reason, those who were lucky enough to actually open back up recently are, for the most part, not taking any chances. Sure, there are always exceptions to the rule, but generally speaking, I think that pretty much any business you visit right now will have at least SOME kind of additional safety measures in place, even if it’s just a simple sign asking people not to enter if they have felt ill recently.
And it’s a good thing that business owners are taking it upon themselves to help ensure the health and well-being of their customers, because many folks seem to be doing absolutely nothing right now to protect themselves, or those who happen to be around them.
Listen, I get that many feel as if the COVID threat is overblown. I also understand that being younger and/or without a compromised immune system will often lead to taking more chances when it comes to this virus. I’m not saying that I support those attitudes, but I accept the fact that they exist. We still have to remember, however, that it’s not just about us as individuals. It’s about the community as a whole, and many folks out in the community at large are still very much concerned about the possibility of catching COVID-19.
I am in no way advocating that we go back to a shutdown situation. In fact, I am hoping and praying every day that we DON’T see that happen. What I am saying is we can’t just totally forget that COVID-19 ever existed either. It’s still out there, people are still getting it, and we should remain mindful of that.
I want to see churches full again. I love to see people going back into restaurants and stores. I am desperately hoping that my son will be able to go back to school this fall. I think all of these things can happen, or will continue to happen. We just have to be careful. Pay extra attention to personal hygiene. Keep your distance whenever possible. Wear a face covering when asked to. These are all small prices to pay for being able to get out and live our lives again.
My point to all of this is: there is a balance. Most of us can leave the house. We have the option to go places, do things, see other people. But we need to continue to be caring and considerate as we do so. Being totally careless does nothing to help us finally get past this once and for all.
That’s all I’m saying.