OPINION: States are reopening too quickly

Cambrea Schrank 

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     The pandemic is almost over. Key word: almost. We’ve still got vaccines to roll out, masks to wear and social distancing to do before things can go back to normal. We aren’t done battling the beast yet, and there is no use in pretending we are. To do so is unwarranted, reckless and possibly even dangerous.  

     As COVID-19 restrictions begin to slowly lift across the United States, some states have taken the plunge and opened entirely back up. To this I say, “God, help us.”  

     A few weeks ago, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order to lift the mask mandate in his state and increase the capacity of all businesses and facilities in the state to 100%.  

     This announcement from the Texas governor came just shortly after the historic and disastrous winter storm that raged through the state and left millions of people without electricity and running water. People actually froze to death, and the governor of Texas thought, “You know what, right now would be the best time to expose my people to yet another catastrophe.”  

     How could you not question that timing?  

     According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, 8,176,731 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in the state of Texas. There are over 29 million people living in Texas and less than a third of them have been vaccinated.  

     The order went into effect on March 10. To think that there are people in Texas out and about, without masks and shots, sounds like risky business to me.  

     The 100% mask-off policy will make it difficult for minimum wage workers to enforce individual store policies if any establishments are still trying to maintain a mask policy.  

    Since vaccine distribution began in the U.S. on Dec. 14, 2020, more than 107 million doses have been administered nationally, reaching 21% of the total U.S. population, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  

     For being only three months into distribution of the vaccine, 21% is not horrible, but think of where another three months could get us. More people vaccinated; more people safe. Saving lives comes at a cost: patience.  

     States like Alaksa, Georgia, Florida and Missouri can also be added to the list of states who have ditched the masks and, in my opinion, opened prematurely.  

     I am so over COVID-19. I am tired and frustrated and ready to get my life back. But I am not willing to sacrifice a human life for my comfort. I will be patient and when the time comes for normalcy, I will be right there with you, probably at a Denver nightclub dancing in a sweaty mess of people with two cocktails in my hands, living my best life.  

    In the meantime, I worry. I worry that lives will be unnecessarily lost because states ripped off the band aid too soon. I worry that if we are too quick to lift all COVID-19 restrictions, not everyone’s immune systems will handle such a sudden change. I worry that we are a selfish species that puts our wants before the needs of others.  

     But I also hope. I hope that the states who have decided to open back up do not have to regret their decision. I hope that people living in these states will look out for one another by continuing to practice social distancing and wearing masks. I hope that they are in line to get their shots and that they receive the vaccine before it’s too late.  

Photo courtesy of Mike Petrucci and Unsplash.com