Reopening Must Be Reconsidered


Photo by Brian Winters.

Coronavirus infection rates are once more spreading like wildfire. Public outcry over an extended lockdown, in conjunction with the looming threat of an economic depression, made it easy for some states to rationalize faster reopening rates. The recent coronavirus spikes have, however, suggested this decision has backfired lethally and should not be pursued further. 

Texas and Florida were praised for reopening the businesses early on so their economies could pick up momentum again. Texas was one of the earliest, easing its lockdown by the end of April. “There is no real need to ratchet back the opening of businesses in the state”, said Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas, who, at that time, believed there are enough hospital beds to accommodate infection rates. 

This wishful thinking has not, however, succeeded in stopping a second wave of coronavirus infections in Texas. Abbott has ordered Texas bars and restaurants to close again after infection rates soared exponentially, with ICU beds fully occupied. Meanwhile, COVID-19 cases in Florida have gone up fivefold, with over 100,000 cases having been reported. Hospitalization rates have shot up and so has use of ventilators. For a second time, Florida bars are shutting their doors to stunt the infection rate.

The surge of the cases could be attributed partly to irresponsibility of individuals and partly to the recklessness of the businesses that reopened after an extensive lockdown. Cases of noncompliance in regards to precautions like wearing masks and maintaining a safe distance in public have increased. This is especially the case for bars, which, in allowing a crowd of people to gather on their premises, has led to an increase in contagion rates among younger demographics especially. Though some only blame recent police brutality protests for COVID-19 spikes, it is really personal irresponsibility and unsafe practices that have exacerbated the situation. Social distancing measures are not taken seriously enough to guarantee safe business reopening.

The mistakes made by two of the biggest economies in the U.S. should serve as a warning to other states. As more businesses open across the country, coronavirus cases in various states are similarly increasing. Mississippi is one of these states, with its coronavirus cases rising exponentially. Many Mississippi businesses are operational now that the lockdown eased, but the increase in the infection cases might persuade the officials to once again close non-essential businesses.

By all accounts, new waves, clusters and spikes of the coronavirus infection rate are inevitable. Jennifer Rohn, a cell biologist at London’s University College, says a second wave of COVID-19 infections is now a matter of “when, and how devastating.” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the leading infectious diseases expert in the United States, has warned that, if present data of infection rates remain constant, the U.S. will have more than 100,000 new coronavirus cases a day.  

The idea of ‘reopening the economy’ seems to have been made in haste and should be rescinded. Mississippi state officials should not repeat the mistakes of other states that have further hurt the economy and people’s health. The officials must not hesitate to implement restrictions. People residing in Mississippi should do their part in complying with regulations on an individual level. Most importantly, since the unpredictability of the virus will not wane until a vaccine is made, businesses should not be reopening at  the moment.