Other Voices: Social distancing remains vital to our battle against COVID-19
There has been much uncertainty surrounding how the coronavirus spreads. Myriad questions have come and gone unanswered or with unclear answers: Can you get the virus from food? How about the mail? What about surfaces? If you are outdoors? If you are 6 feet apart? Experts are coming to a consensus that they are less concerned about COVID-19 being transmitted through food, surfaces and the outdoors and are more concerned about extended – as short as 15 minutes – and close interactions between people.
As we continue to take increased risks by loosening or neglecting recommended precautions during the pandemic, states like Texas are seeing new daily records for the number of COVID-19 cases that aren't entirely explained by ramped-up testing. We are also seeing increases in hospitalizations. We all should remind ourselves that just because more businesses are reopening does not mean that social distancing is no longer important social practice. Statewide rules requiring customers to wear masks would be more helpful.
To be clear, we continue to believe that Americans should feel empowered to have their voices heard, and that includes protesting. Our point is that wearing masks and making smart decisions to lower the risk of spreading the coronavirus also remain important. In terms of protesting, that also means that large crowds should be mindful of going to enclosed spaces for prolonged periods of time.
Protests aside, our country continues to reopen quickly and in doing so seems poised to embrace practices that will spread this virus. From political rallies to restaurants opening up more indoor service, to friends and families expanding their quarantine bubbles to outsiders, we are creeping in less than 6 feet apart and increasing the chances of infection.
The Republican National Convention moved from Charlotte, North Carolina, to Jacksonville, Florida, because the president wanted assurances that the multiday gathering that draws a crowd of around 50,000 from across the country can forge ahead. Vice President Mike Pence recently declared that we are "winning the fight against the invisible enemy" and downplayed a "second wave." The White House is now singing a different tune about a possible second wave, but regardless of all the cross-talk, it should be clear that we must continue to take the virus seriously and prepare for a second wave this fall.
Many of us are guilty of relaxing and wishfully thinking that the coronavirus pandemic is nearing the end. Summer can bring thoughts of family vacations and trips with friends. People are planning these getaways – some responsibly and others less so – because we are tired of quarantining. However, this virus is still dangerous, and the risks of unfettered spread remain. We've paid a heavy price for containing this virus; it would be a tragedy to let it run wild now. Our economy will improve. There will be a time again when social distancing is something that lives only in the past. But at this moment, caution and smart thinking remain vitally important.
– The Dallas Morning News