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It is time to move forward, together on COVID-19

Vox Pop

We are going to be struggling through our response to COVID-19 for awhile — I am hoping that at some point, we can start to acknowledge the challenges we all face and begin to move past this continued partisan lens we seem to all view pandemic through. I am tired of hearing that our options are ‘open up’ or ‘stay at home’ - both of these options are the wrong approach. In order to move forward, we need to acknowledge some basic pieces: 1. Safer at home worked. It saved lives and flattened the curve. It is hard to count how many more people would have died, but if we had done nothing, it is likely millions. The social and economic impacts of that would be crushing. Going back to business as usual is not an option unless we truly are willing to accept millions dying. I am not okay with that.

2. The pain and suffering of staying at home is real. When we don’t acknowledge the many impacts, monetary, health, self-esteem, etc., it lacks empathy towards people who are suffering for real reasons and want to relieve their suffering.

3. We cannot keep ‘Safe at home’ for 18 to 24 months, which is what most experts agree will be the likely timeline prior to a vaccine. Probably another year after that before widespread availability.

4. The means to safely opening up the economy are well known. Their are a few pieces to it, but the most critical are widespread testing, especially of asymptomatic people, and contact tracing. Without these systems in place, we will be choosing to have many people die, which is not only wrong, but terrible for the economy.

5. This response is most effective with a competent federal administration - this means we need to move beyond the statements of ‘everyone can get a test’ to producing the actual tests. The White House has not delivered so far, and to get the economy going again, we need them to deliver — approximately five million per day. Federal leadership will accelerate this much quicker than individual states.

6. States, including Wisconsin, that were maintaining ‘safer at home’ rulings into May were following the guidelines set forth by the White House Task Force for when to safely open up. Wisconsin has not met this criteria. We can disagree with the blanket extension across the state — it is hard in a rural county to follow an order to stay at home and suffer the pain when we have no known cases — but please stop engaging in conspiracies around whether Evers is trying to make Trump look bad when he is in line with the guidelines set forth by the White House Taskforce. Unless you think Trump’s Taskforce wanted to make Trump look bad.

It’s time to move forward - this means working together to mitigate risk by following basic hygiene and wearing facial coverings, practicing social distancing, reconnecting with our friends and neighbors, demanding our government on all levels provides the means for living as safely as possible via testing and tracing, and opening up the economy to relieve some of the suffering. I don’t want to live holed up in my house for another year and I don’t want to be responsible for the deaths of my friends and neighbors either. I would like a community and government that provides the tools needed for me to avoid that reality.

— Ben Koch, Medford