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Don’t relax yet

By Staff | May 8, 2020

We are finishing week two of Gov. Jim Justice’s six-week phased reopening plan for West Virginia.

After spending over a month in social isolation, West Virginia’s businesses certainly need to increase their cash flow, so they won’t have to permanently close. As The Shepherdstown Chronicle reported in our April 24, 2020 edition, at least one of Shepherdstown’s businesses, Town Run Tap House and Community Pub, has already been forced to permanently close, due to its decrease in business. Hopefully, with restaurants and nonessential businesses alike now being given a little more operational lee-way, no further permanent closures will happen.

Shepherdstown residents most likely feel some uncertainty over the changes happening with the governor’s plan. We have missed interacting with each other and have felt the sadness of seeing how local businesses have been effected by the closures, so we will be glad to see the town’s businesses reopen. However, as our front page story mentions, we are currently considered a “hotspot” for the spread of the virus.

With everything beginning to return back to normal, what will happen with the COVID-19 pandemic? Is there any hope that it will not begin to spread more quickly, as social isolation measures are relaxed? Should we take full advantage of the governor’s relaxed restrictions?

Let’s remember a few things.

As Vox Media reported back on March 18, the COVID-19 virus spreads to twice as many people as the seasonal flu. Even with social isolation going on across the state over the past few weeks, the number of cases has continued to rise. As of Tuesday evening, 1,242 West Virginians had been positively identified for contracting the virus — 83 of which were Jefferson County residents. So far, 50 West Virginians have died from the COVID-19 pandemic, including one Jefferson County resident. The only rational conclusion, when considering the nature of the virus, is that the number of people contracting it will increase as we come into increased contact with each other — especially if we don’t observe any safety measures while doing so.

Face masks, avoiding touching our faces, washing our hands and limiting physical proximity with other people are all ways the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have told us to prevent the virus’ spread. For the sake of protecting ourselves, our families and our community, we should continue to observe these safety measures. And those who are at-risk for having a severe COVID-19 case should seriously consider continuing to practice social isolation. Being cautious is not easy, but if it is able to save lives, it is worth it.

Let’s welcome this “new normal,” as the governor called it, and support our local businesses whenever possible. But let’s do so with care. We care for our town — both its businesses and its citizens.