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Pandemic's end requires careful return to normal

Johnson City Press • Apr 18, 2020 at 6:30 AM

It’s been two weeks since Gov. Bill Lee issued Executive Order 23 to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus by requiring residents to stay at home unless conducting essential business or performing essential activities.

Our time in social isolation has been lonely and stressful, and, based on Lee’s extension of the order through the rest of April, it’s not over yet, but there’s hopeful light at the end of the proverbial tunnel.

The governor said this week he’d like to begin lifting some of the precautionary restrictions when it’s safe to do so. On the phone with governors Thursday, President Donald Trump supported a gradual relaxation of stay-at-home orders and other safety measures after a demonstrated decline in new infections.

So it seems in the near future, thanks to the sacrifices we’ve made so far and the hard work of our area’s health professionals to contain and treat COVID-19, we may begin a return to normal.

Even when it does start, the return won’t come overnight, and it will be the responsibility of us all to show restraint to avoid another surge in cases. Our actions may determine whether more people in our community fall ill in a second wave and whether we rubber-band back into lockdown.

When we’re able to venture out again to dine and to gather in groups, listen to the recommendations of our health officials and leaders.

At first, there will likely be limits on group sizes and personal space. It may be a good while before we should take part in some of the activities we enjoyed before the pandemic. It will be tempting to charge headlong into our old routines, especially with summer holidays and the backyard barbecue season on the horizon.

Hang in there. This will be over sooner if we’re careful and smart about it.

Some of our friends, neighbors and family members at higher risk will need to maintain extra precaution. Respect them and help them when you can. They need it. Society will need it.

Doctors and researchers are exploring treatments for COVID-19 and working to formulate a vaccine to prevent the virus, but it may still be a while before we’re fully in the clear.

Tread carefully, be aware of the dangers and help everyone stay healthy.

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