Did We Reopen Too Soon?

By late May, states had begun plans to reopen, following guidelines from the White House for the three phase process of restarting the economy and allowing individuals to gather and go out. Stay-at-home orders were lifted, and various areas of business, such as stores, restaurants, and athletic facilities, were allowed to open with strict social distancing and sanitation guidelines. However, there is much debate surrounding whether or not the reopening process is moving too quickly, as cases now spike in the majority of states.

Yes, we are reopening too quickly. Despite the growing number of cases of COVID in many states, the government has continued to push reopening. This has caused a devastating spike across the country, primarily in the Southern and Western states. States like Arizona, Louisiana, and California saw record-breaking highs of coronavirus cases throughout July. These come after reopening measures were put in place despite seeing a general rise in cases, such as in the case of Florida, where Governor DeSantis continued to open the state although the daily number of cases continued to grow. But beginning in July, reopening became re-shutting down as sectors of the economy closed, and new guidelines promoted mask wearing and social distancing. Reopening too soon has had detrimental consequences for both states that have seemingly contained the virus and states that have been faced with dangerous daily rises in cases – so much so, that we have had to go backward in our progress to reopen.

Reopening too quickly has also given people false confidence that the pandemic is over, when this could not be farther from the truth; as a consequence, people do not wear face masks in public and go to gatherings and hangouts without social distancing. This leaves both themselves and others vulnerable to the virus in public areas. At home, people can spread the virus unknowingly to their families, putting the elderly especially at high risk. Furthermore, because there are still states that do not require face masks, some may question their own need to wear face masks despite the guidance of their local and state governments. The pace at which we reopened has unintentionally caused a lull in following guidelines of protection and prevention of spreading the virus, which has no doubt been a factor in the alarming rise of cases that began after reopening measures. 

Reopening has caused an unprecedented spike in the number of cases across the country, causing some states to re-close. Moving forward, we must take as many precautionary measures as possible to ensure that another exponential growth in cases does not grip the country once more. 

No, we did not reopen too quickly. Although the decision to reopen was difficult, it had to be done in order to preserve the economy and the mental health of our people. Due to the shut down, millions of people have become unemployed, with the largest rise in unemployment growing from 15.9 million to 23.1 million people in April. Leaving 14.7% of the population without work and struggling to buy necessities, stay-at-home orders were a necessary, but also consequential measure. Women, immigrants, and employees of low-paying jobs especially were affected by the shut down, as well as businesses. Small businesses struggled to survive, while even large businesses like JCPenny filed for bankruptcy or cited financial issues related to COVID-19. Considering these factors, the government decided it was best to push for reopening measures in order to combat unemployment and get the economy back on its feet.

Reopening was also important to ensure the mental health and wellness of individuals. As soon as COVID-19 cases started showing signs of slowing down, the government allowed states to reopen businesses such as restaurants, bars, and other areas of social gathering with mask and safety guidelines. Because humans are social beings, being forced to stay indoors without face to face interaction has caused a rise in depression and suicide rates, especially since people now lack the in-person support system of friends, doctors, and other people in the community. Moreover, domestic and child abuse has risen substantially since the shut down. With no escape from home, victims of domestic violence are forced to endure the brutality of partners or family constantly. National hotlines have been receiving more calls than ever before on a global scale – reopening states would allow victims of domestic violence to find a way to leave the confinement of home and hopefully find refuge.

Considering the need for lower unemployment and people’s mental and physical well being, the decision to reopen was not made too early. It was necessary to try and bring the nation back to its standing before the coronavirus closed down our lives. 

By Jessica Jiang

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