David Jenkins: Decision to open up state is the right one

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Itís time.

On Monday at 12:01 a.m. the state of Missouriís stay-at-home order as well as the Scott County and Sikeston stay-at-home orders will lift, allowing businesses to reopen and residents to go back to work.

Although I know many do not, I feel the decision is the right one, even though I do believe we will see an increase in COVID-19 positive cases in the coming weeks.

But here is the thing, there is no vaccine. And a vaccine isnít coming for a while. We canít all stay in our homes for a year or more, waiting for a vaccine that may or may not come. So do we wait in our homes until there are no cases anywhere? That doesnít seem feasible.

Unless everyone, everywhere, stays home for a few weeks, is there really a legitimate chance to eradicate this virus. And if everyone stays home, who takes care of the sick? Who delivers your food? Who puts out a fire or enforces the stay-at-home order?

There are over 38,000 people in Scott County and as I write this 63 have tested positive for COVID-19. Two people have died. While any deaths are awful, how many people in Scott County died from the flu before the pandemic? I would guess more than two. How many people have gotten the flu this year? I would guess more than 63.

There is also more to think about than COVID-19. A report released in April in the Journal of the American Medical Association expressed concern about the potential for increased suicide rates due to economic stress, social isolation and other factors related to the pandemic. In March, the Disaster Distress Helpline saw a 338 percent increase in call volume from February. The longer we stay at home, the more dangerous it becomes to the mental health of many.

I truly believe that if we use some common sense and observe things like social distancing, washing our hands and wearing masks in crowds we can keep the virus somewhat contained. Do I still have a chance of catching the coronavirus? Of course. But I also have a chance of dying in a car accident or having a heart attack. We live with risks everyday.

I certainly donít think we need to have situations where there are big crowds but people should be able to cut hair, shop in businesses or eat in restaurants if we use precautions.

I encourage those who donít feel safe to stay home. Donít get out unless you need to. Then you also donít have to worry about those of us who are out giving you the disease. I want everyone to be safe.

Businesses have closed. People have lost jobs. And the longer we stay at home, the worse it will get. The longer it will take to fix.

Itís time to open up businesses, get back to work, and hope that the things we have learned about washing hands and social distancing will keep us from regretting going back too soon.

David Jenkins is co-editor of the Standard Democrat.

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