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Ethics & Religion
Column #2,020
April 29, 2020
Are States Opening Too Soon?
By Mike McManus

The Governors of Colorado, Texas, Minnesota and Montana are moving to reopen certain businesses.

Colorado's "stay-at home" orders expired Monday and Gov. Jared Polis (R) announced a targeted plan to reopen curbside retail sales and elective surgeries Monday. In-person shopping can began Friday and barber shops, tattoo parlors and other personal-care businesses can open as well.

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (R) allowed houses of worship to open Sunday and stores on Monday. Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz (R) is allowing certain manufacturers and businesses that do not have in-person interaction with clients to open. Other states, including Texas, announced plans to open their states this week.

At a news conference in Denver on Monday, Gov. Polis said the state "achieved what we wanted to achieve" during the stay-at-home order, including slowing the spread of the virus and increasing health-care capacity.

The next phase will include managing the spread of the virus and learning to live with social distancing. Deaths and infection rates have declined in recent days, but Polis has said he is concerned about the potential for a second spike.

He should be concerned. Nearly 14,000 Colorado residents have tested positive for the coronavirus and more than 700 have died.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the highly respected director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, issued a warning at the White House April 13 against states reopening business prematurely, saying It could cause "a rebound to get us right back in the same boat that we were in a few weeks ago."

The virus, which emerged in Wuhan, China almost four months ago, has sickened more than 3 million people worldwide and killed at least 232,000 as of last week, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Roughly a third of the global cases are in the United States, making it the worst outbreak in the world, infecting than 1 million people.

Fauci said he is "cautiously optimistic" researchers can develop a vaccine to prevent Covid-19, but added that nothing is ever "a guarantee." The United States could be in for a bad fall" if researchers don't find an effective treatment to fight the coronavirus by then.

The virus will certainly make a comeback in the United States even as cases begin to stabilize, Fauci predicted.

Furthermore, Fauci declared, "In my mind, it's inevitable that we will have a return of the virus, or maybe even that it never went away."

He added that the virus has been shown to be "highly transmissible." He confessed that the emergence of the virus "exploded upon us," and kept him up at night.

"Everyone is at risk," he asserted.

However, the governors want to see their economies recover. Even within such states as Colorado, local officials are concerned. Denver Mayor Michael Hancock (D) has extended the city's "at-home" order until May 8, and suburban counties have followed suit.

In Greeley, Col. commissioners decided the county needed to get back to business. The commissioners heard from constituents who were struggling to pay their bills and take care of their families. The commissioners said that preventative measures need to be taken when business reopen.

In a poll released on Wednesday, two-thirds of respondents, including 62% of Republicans - agreed that limits on restaurants, stores and businesses were "appropriate" while only 17% said they were too restrictive.

In another sign of return to normalcy, Starbucks chief executive Kevin Johnson told investors Tuesday that he expects to open 90% of all company-owned stores by early June.

However, a closely watched index of consumer sentiment from the Conference Board fell sharply Tuesday to 86.9 in April, down from 118.8 in March.

Millions of Americans have lost their jobs in recent weeks, forcing many families to rethink their spending habits.

Business owners say they also are facing a delicate balancing act, weighing the health of their employees against the need to make money.

In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) is allowing certain businesses, included retailers, restaurants and movie theaters to open at the end of the week, but at only 25% capacity. That quarter-capacity mandate has left business owners scrambling to determine how, and when, to restart operations.

In Columbia, SC, Darius Johnson is preparing to reopen his smoothie shop Monday after a month-long closure that has cost him thousands of dollars in lost sales. He plans to introduce a mobile app so customers can order and pay by phone. "it has been a really big challenge to wake up every morning knowing I'm not going to make a single dollar."

He hopes to "stay safe," but open for business.

Thankfully, most governors and businesses are proceeding cautiously.


Copyright (c) 2020 Michael J. McManus, a syndicated columnist and past president of Marriage Savers. To read past columns, go to www.ethicsandreligion.comm. Hit Search for any topic.


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