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Opinion: Don't throw caution to the wind just yet

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As an introvert, my daily schedule hasn’t changed a whole lot amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Sure, I’m now working from home, but I’ve kept the same hours. My family continues to use Walmart’s grocery pickup service rather than go inside the stores, and ancillary items are a click away on Amazon.

I realize not everyone is like me, and that to others, stay-at-home orders have been burdensome and frustrating. And though I favor my home, I, too, am eager to go out to eat, catch movies at the theater and peruse flea markets.

While I’m now able to do these activities as the city of Springfield and Greene County gradually lift the local shelter-in-place edict, it likely will be a while before I’ll feel comfortable enough to do so.

The Springfield-Greene County Health Department – which deserves gratitude for all it’s done to advise and update us during this time – is still recommending caution as the economy reopens and people begin to venture outside of their homes more frequently.

Some of the guidance is common sense, such as a recommendation that anyone who is exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms, including cough, fever and shortness of breath, simply should stay home.

Unfortunately, some residents can’t be trusted with the renewed freedom.

The Health Department on May 8 issued a cautionary advisory about a local individual with COVID-19 who visited multiple Springfield businesses May 2-5, including an east-side Aldi store, as well as a Walmart and the Sugarfire Smokehouse restaurant in the southeast part of the city. Officials also announced another individual with the virus went to a north-side Walmart on May 10.

While both of these people had not yet been diagnosed with COVID-19, they were symptomatic when visiting these businesses.

It’s important, as we’re being given more flexibility to resume our lives, that we continue to follow Health Department and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

With stay-at-home orders lifted, it’s up to the people now more than ever to make sure this virus does not cause a second wave of cases.

Remember the data. As of May 13, more than 82,000 people had died from the virus in the United States. More than 1.3 million cases were reported. In Greene County, there have been 104 cases and eight deaths, five of whom were residents of an assisted living center.

These deaths can’t be senseless; they can’t be in vain.

To throw caution to the wind and visit public places while symptomatic is to disrespect the dead. And such selfish behavior could cause more deaths to occur.

Health officials have helped to stem the tide of this pandemic, and without their guidance, the numbers certainly would be much worse. It’s vital that, without an official rule dictating we stay at home, we take matters into our own hands and exercise prudent judgment. It’s quite easy to do so, especially with easily accessible guidance from health officials. It’s as simple as wearing a face mask when you’re in public, as Springfield Business Journal Features Editor Christine Temple made the case in her May 11 column. I’d encourage you to go read her piece, if you haven’t yet.

With face masks on and at least 6 feet of distance between us, we can eradicate this virus together. Convenience can wait if it means saving human lives.

Springfield Business Journal Web Editor Geoff Pickle can be reached at gpickle@sbj.net.

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