This is not the time to stop distancing

Editorial

Posted 5/6/20

Gov. Kim Reynolds has started lifting some social distancing restrictions in Iowa.

That easing does not apply to Washington County yet. There are many residents here who want to break free of the …

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This is not the time to stop distancing

Editorial

Posted

Gov. Kim Reynolds has started lifting some social distancing restrictions in Iowa.

That easing does not apply to Washington County yet. There are many residents here who want to break free of the bonds of staying at home.

We get it.

Social distancing is not easy. People enjoy the freedom of going where they want to go, when they want to go.

Social distancing restricts that freedom. Mental illness issues are showing up in people who have never had problems in the past.

The rate of death and infection in the state continues to climb. On Tuesday morning, Reynolds announced that there were 408 new cases of COVID-19 and 19 deaths. That raises the state’s total to 10,111 cases and 207 deaths.

Yes, Iowa has crossed the threshold of 10,000 confirmed cases and 200 deaths.

Area cities have begun talking about easing restrictions, slowly. Cities are working together so that the rules throughout the county are the same.

This is a wise course of action.

“On the 15th, some restrictions might be loosened and allow for a little more activity and the opening up of some public facilities and spaces,” Kalona City Administrator Ryan Schlabaugh told the Kalona City Council Monday night.

He said he has met with officials from both Washington and Wellman on the issue.

“The cities of Kalona and Washington and I have been working together to see how things play out,” Wellman City Administrator Kelly Litwiller told the Wellman City Council Monday. “We feel we all need to be on the same page and doing the same thing.”

Schlabaugh said that the cities are looking to take a cautious approach to re-opening.

“Take a couple weeks and open up in a staggered approach,” he said. “Open up our parks, but maybe not necessarily the restrooms right away. Both of them will probably have their city halls as-is until June 1.”

We like the go-slow approach.

What worries us is talking with people in north Washington County who still do not understand that the disease is sickening people in our area.

This is not like getting the flu. People with severe cases cannot breathe. The pain is intense.

One friend recently asked if there were any cases in Kalona.

Yes, there are. The threat is here, and it is real.

We talked to one area resident recently who asked that we not do a story about his battle with the disease, but he was willing to confide in us how scary it is.

This man was close to death as a result of a bout with COVID-19 in April. After being rushed to the hospital with breathing difficulties, he was placed on a ventilator for a short time.

Even after being discharged, his recovery has been slow. He gets easily out of breath from the most basic of chores around the house.

He now avoids public gatherings and wears a mask for his rare trips out of the house.

His message to everyone else: “This is real.”

Danielle Pettit-Majewski, the county director of public health, has done a wonderful job guiding the county through these perilous times. She has kept up a steady drumbeat of advice from the beginning.

• Wash your hands.

• Wear a mask when you go out in public.

• Keep at least 6 feet of distance between yourself and others.

• If you must go to a store, go by yourself, not with a group, and limit your trips to one time per week.

These steps don’t stop the disease from spreading, but they do slow its spread and provide you with the best chance of mitigating your risk of catching it.

Listen to what Pettit-Majewski says. Washington County needs to maintain its social distancing steps. It is a matter of life and death.

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