Despite all the wishful thinking and frustration with safeguards, the fight against the COVID-19 virus continues as the number of cases and deaths is increasing.
Certainly some of the hardest hit areas are on the downside of the curve, and that is a good sign. But other areas, including Wyoming, are showing spikes in cases as businesses reopen and social activities increase.
Scientists and medical experts really don’t know for sure whether a second wave of infections will occur. But they universally urge continued precautions and vigilance even as our society reopens in many ways. Those who sneer at these experts aren’t doing any of us — or themselves — any favors.
By and large, Wyoming has been better than many states at taking things slow, at least as far as official rules and policies are concerned. Even though restaurants and many other businesses have been allowed to reopen there have been relatively stringent rules for this to happen. Most restaurants and bars are following these rules and in many cases continuing precautions that exceed the official guidelines. And most customers have been understanding, though even at reduced occupancy these businesses are seldom at capacity. Many people are still being rightfully cautious and are slow to resume previous habits.
But we have noticed and been told of some restaurants that seem to be fudging on the rules. Observers say this has been even more of a problem at bars and taverns. That environment tends to result in reduced inhibitions so the fact that patrons are not heeding social distancing regulations certainly isn’t surprising.
As Laramie looks forward to the return of thousands of University of Wyoming students in the fall, the whole issue of social distancing will become more and more of a concern. Can we count on all of these young people to modify their behavior enough to help protect this community against an increase in virus infections? If business owners and officials aren’t enforcing the rules now, what will they do when faced with an influx of customers, many of whom believe they are immune from the threat of infection?
That problem could well be compounded if UW hosts football games or other highly attended functions. We realize how important those games are to the school, the players, the hospitality businesses and the fans. But crowded events and those that bring fans from all over the state to Laramie have the potential to spread this disease.
This is all a concern because everywhere we look more and more people are ignoring precautions. It isn’t exactly surprising that people are taking less care and being less vigilant as restrictions decrease. Parties and group activities are happening more frequently, and many don’t wear face coverings even going into crowded stores or events. Even simple precautions such as following the one-way flow in stores, proper handling of merchandise and social distancing are ignored.
We are also at a loss to explain how a matter of science and public health has somehow become a political statement. The very fact that national leaders are setting a bad example by eschewing masks or other reasonable precautions is more than appalling.
Let’s be clear. We all want this pandemic to be over. And we all hope that the skeptics are correct that a disastrous second wave won’t happen. But it sure seems foolish to let our hopes take over our common sense. Each of us needs to continue to do our part to keep our community safe and healthy. And if people blatantly disregard public health orders, they should face the applicable consequences.
Wishful thinking has often resulted in misfortune. Let’s not let it happen this time.