Op-Ed: Time to Pivot to Fixing the Economy

We have all sacrificed during the quarantine-some more than others and everyone in our own unique way.

It is time to pivot our attention and resources to mending a dormant economy. Every business is essential to the families of its employees. With appropriate safety protocols, businesses must be allowed to reopen.

The initial response to the COVID -19 pandemic of social distancing is justifiable based on the uncertainty the illness presented. Its high rate of transmission and lack of response to treatment made it especially worrisome. Experienced medical professionals were truly baffled by this virus. Government leaders, faced with few good options, made the best decisions they could with the limited information they had at the time. But that time has passed.

Individuals can make their own decisions as to the level of risk they can tolerate. High-risk individuals can self-quarantine at home. Businesses can take appropriate measures to protect their workers and customers. Every business faces its own unique circumstances. What might work for a restaurant, will not work for an electrical contractor. A blanket-approach across all industries will not work. 

The purpose of our quarantine efforts has never been, nor can it be, to eliminate COVID-19, or prevent anyone from contracting it. Only a vaccine can do that. The goal has always been to keep the infection rate as low as possible for as long as possible. This is what “flattening the curve” is about.  Flattening the curve lowers the infection rate. Reducing the infection rate allows the medical community to treat patients over a greater period of time. It is important to remember that the quarantine has its own health consequences as well.

As public health officials learn more about the COVID-19, appropriate measures can be taken. If lifting quarantine restrictions leads to an upward-spike in new infections, quarantine measures can be re-instituted. What is clear now is the economy must be a priority, it cannot remain dormant forever.  People must get back to work, schools must re-open, public spaces must be available.

Edmund J.M. Smyth

Councilman, Town of Huntington

 

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