Start slow and the rest will come – Columbia Daily Herald

Posted: April 28, 2020 at 2:47 am

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The last thing I want to do is tell someone how to live their life, even if the person just told me something outrageously stupid and unwise.

Not only is it none of my business, it isnt as if Ive carried a glowing resume of good behavior throughout my life when it comes to my personal choices. However, now is the time when how we behave will determine just how quickly things can return to normal, whatever that means anymore.

Gov. Bill Lees executive order that has kept us all cooped up at home over the past few weeks is set to expire by the end of this month. This will mean some businesses will reopen once again and well have more options to get out and do things. However, that doesnt necessarily mean we open the floodgates for a massive retail and bar-hopping free-for-all.

Even though the wise thing would probably be to stay under quarantine until rapid testing for COVID-19 is made readily available, theres only so long before doing nothing will itself make things worse. Having to weigh the publics health and safety against the states economic health is a tough conversation, because you really cant have one without the other.

Its tough to argue in favor of extending the stay-at-home order because I, for one, havent been without work like so many others (approximately 400,000 Tennesseans according to the state unemployment office), nor do I have children to feed and look after. I cant imagine what life would be like if the paychecks stopped coming in and Id have to consider either joining the unemployment line, or find a job bagging groceries or flipping burgers. Im sure Id be pretty upset too.

Whether its next week or two months from now, the choice to reopen would have always been met with uncertainty, hesitation and people like me asking, Are you sure were ready for this? I think its possible at this time to reopen, sure, but there has to be a level of finesse and self-awareness that we keep among ourselves.

One thing we cant lose sight of is why we were put under self-quarantine. It was to make the number of cases go down, give health organizations time to work on a vaccine and for the public to educate itself on the proper hygiene practices.

The reason the case numbers have gone down is because were doing the right thing by staying home and abiding by the states health recommendations. It doesnt mean its all a hoax or that the government and media are blowing it out of proportion. Its as if some people need an extra 10,000 lives lost before they get the point.

Just because things are good doesnt mean they cant get worse. If anything, now is the time when we could become the most vulnerable to the virus, when our chances of getting it are hundreds of times greater because we will be interacting on a much greater scale now.

Hopefully our time in quarantine, as well as the repeated sanitizing of surface areas and places people touch, has given us a fighting chance that this thing is all but eradicated. But thats looking at the best case scenario, not necessarily the reality of what probably is.

I think people forget that giving in because you think this is ridiculous could mean putting the lives of your loved ones, of other peoples loved ones, at risk. Im confident that most of us know well enough to keep washing their hands and to maintain distance from one another. But there is always a chance the excitement of being out among the population could overshadow the seriousness we must remain aware of.

Even if we wanted to run out and pretend the last two months didnt happen, there is a plan in place to prevent that. As announced Friday, Lees Tennessee Pledge rollout plan is designed as a gradual return to business. The plan includes restrictions on how many patrons are allowed at certain establishments, with many restaurants, bars and retail centers operating at half capacity.

Businesses which involve close contact with clients, such as barber shops, salons and tattoo parlors will remain closed until later in May. There goes my hope for a good haircut for another few weeks, but rocking a haphazard mullet is a fair trade if it means the safety of others.

The next few weeks will be interesting, and its good to be optimistic that things are going to get better, because they are. We just need to be aware that this is going to be a slow process, and jumping the gun could mean this whole thing was for naught.

On a local level, Columbia is planning its own phased re-open plan, which more or less follows Lee and the states plan to reintegrate one step at a time. If the community abides by the rules the way they have been during the quarantine, I think were going to be just fine. The local economy will still suffer, somewhat, and Im sure the news of reopening doesnt necessarily mean local businesses are out of the woods, but the plan does provide a much-needed sense of direction.

There will be a sense of hope, I think, once we start seeing people out again, are taking strolls around the square and laughing together. Personally, I look forward to the day I can revive my Friday Things to do column to inform people about all the great stuff weve got happening around town. Itll be weird at first, sure, but if theres one thing the COVID-19 quarantine has taught me, its the virtue in being patient and to take things one day at a time.

Thats the only way the good days can happen again. Its that we listen, remain self-aware and take it slow, otherwise well just wind up back at the place we started, or worse.

Jay Powell is a reporter for The Daily Herald. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter @JayPowellCDH.

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Start slow and the rest will come - Columbia Daily Herald

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April 28th, 2020 at 2:47 am

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