Lisa Romero mug

Lisa Romero

Now is the time to take heed to health experts rather than certain economists and other coronavirus naysayers.

If we don’t, the consequences could be far worse down the road, not just in the price of lives lost but also the financial state of our country.

Nearing the end of the second week of efforts to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic through isolation and social distancing, some voices are calling for a quick end to restrictions in order to help the economy.

Without naming names, some public officials, economists, and members of the national media are acting like our economic problems are caused by the restrictions. They claim that reopening businesses and relaxing the rules on physical distancing will make things better.

Doctors, epidemiologists, and other health experts, though, are united in the opinion that restrictions are vital and should continue for as long as they deem necessary.

Many economists, public officials and journalists are listening and agree, saying that attempting to restart the economy by loosening distancing restrictions won’t work.

On Tuesday, Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney tweeted: “There will be no normally functioning economy if our hospitals are overwhelmed and thousands of Americans of all ages, including our doctors and nurses, lay dying because we have failed to do what’s necessary to stop the virus.”

Her tweet was in a thread by Scott Gottlieb, physician and former FDA commissioner, who said: “There’s a strong and understandable desire to return to better times and a functioning economy. But it should not be lost on anyone that there’s no such thing as a functioning economy and society so long as covid-19 continues to spread uncontrolled in our biggest cities.”

When determining the timeline for easing restrictions, whose opinions should have the most influence? It should be those who know the most about pandemics and coronavirus, and who understand just how important it is for each and every one of us to follow their recommendations.

It’s not just about the percentage of the population who may or may not get the COVID-19. It’s about doing our best to keep from overwhelming hospitals so that they have enough resources in order to provide the level of care required to everyone who needs it.

COVID-19 is worse than the flu. It spreads easily. A person can be contagious for up to two weeks before symptoms appear — compared to 1-4 days for the flu. It is also more deadly. The mortality rate is currently 1.5% in the U.S. and 4.5% worldwide compared to the flu mortality rate of 0.1-0.2%, and that rate could go higher. There is no treatment or vaccine available to help. Those who are hospitalized usually need ventilators, and there are a limited number available.

The strain is already being felt on hospitals in some areas, and easing restrictions too soon will make it much worse. We don’t want to end up erecting field hospitals and forcing doctors to choose who to save and who to let die. Our choices about who to believe and how to behave can help prevent that.

The more we listen to those who know best and follow each and every order and recommendation as long as necessary, the more lives will be saved, the sooner our economy can rebound, and the sooner life can get back to some semblance of normalcy.

Lisa Romero is a reporter/photographer/digital media manager at the Rocket-Miner. She can be reached at photos@rocketminer.com.

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