Letter to Editor: Re: Pandemic Social Distancing

Dear Friends and Neighbors;

What I find interesting as I watch the COVID 19 pandemic move throughout the world is how states and countries respond makes such a difference. What is even more compelling is how individuals respond. The power of one person becomes evident. 1000’s of masks have saved lives because individuals are sewing them.

People have the choice to practice social distancing, or they can willfully spread disease. People can hold protests, shout in groups (spreading droplets) and hurry along the spread of disease by gathering. They can demand stay at home orders be lifted, which would spread disease. And your choice has an impact on your healthcare system, responders, and community, your family, and your own life.

This united offensive to quickly get Americans back to work, is all happening on days when we are losing over two thousand people a day, when we’ve eclipsed 735,287 confirmed cases, when 40,585 have died in the span of eight weeks, when 114,123 are hospitalized in the US with COVID 19. Our public health and medical facilities will be juggling response and recovery operations.

In South Dakota, the number of confirmed cases in the state has risen from 129 to 988 since April 1 — when Gov. Kristi Noem criticized the “draconian measures” of social distancing to stop the spread of the virus in her state. She lifted quarantine and social distancing measures. Clearly we can see the direct outcomes from one individual’s decision.

We have all had to work through denial, shock and grief over this. Some people stay in denial and believe COVID is a hoax, or that it will “go around us” which is mind boggling to me. All it takes is a little homework to realize that this severe pandemic is changing the health, economy, and generation of the entire world.

From Easter Sunday, confirmed COVID cases jumped from 412,534 to 735,287 on April 19th in the US.

In that same period, deaths rose from 110,052 to 164,402 globally. This is while sanctions are in place. Why would we want to rush to increase these already bleak numbers? How will that aid the economy?

Experts are estimating that actual numbers of people infected is more likely 4-10 times that amount as 1% of people have been tested for COVID 19 in the US.

I wonder what our experience will be when sanctions or lifted or defied. As we see the rush to recover and open everything up, I am anticipating a surge of COVID-19. Will we practice measures developed and needed with our new normal?

And as we work through our first wave in Colorado, I am watching countries who are just now beginning to experience their second wave. Singapore, Tokyo, and South Korea. Experts are describing how the second wave is toppling the healthcare system in Tokyo.

It reminds me of the 1918 pandemic, where people grew sick of the social distancing in the summer. When the great war finally ended in November, people took to the streets by the thousands to celebrate their good fortune. In the weeks that followed, the second wave of the pandemic killed more people than the war.

Kris Stokke
dba SE Region Generalist


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