Just because we made it to Green, doesn’t mean the fight against COVID-19 is over

By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times @mikemcgannpa

If everything goes as planned, Chester County will move to Green Status next Friday, the final phase of social and business limitations intended to halt the spread of COVID-19.

I think we can both be excited and proud of this fact. For the most part, people in this county listened to local and state officials, played it carefully, stayed home as much as possible and helped to throttle back the virus’ spread. And yeah, we’re all excited to see businesses reopen and things edge back closer to normal.

We’ve made a lot of progress, but the work is not done. We still need to be careful.

The fact is this: despite asinine protests, lies and flat-out rebellion by some folks in the state, Gov. Tom Wolf’s containment plan has worked: Pennsylvania is one of three states (with Hawaii and Montana) to see declining case numbers for more than 40 straight days. While states with early reopenings (as Pennsylvania Republicans and folks the Chester County Chamber of Business & Industry demanded happen here) like Texas, Alabama, Arizona and Florida are seeing case loads — both infections and hospitalizations — spiral out of control.

Business groups and political leaders claimed those states could reopen safely.

As it turns out, they could not.

A lot of people are going to die in those states because of misplaced greed — wanting to reopen too soon — and foolishness — reopening, causing a spike, and closing again will kill a lot more small businesses. Maybe that is a feature and not a bug — corporate America and the GOP have been strangling small businesses for decades now, despite claiming to support them.

And now, despite the clear fact that Wolf’s actions worked — and saved an estimated 7,000 lives in the state — 24 GOP members of the State House want to impeach the governor and Republicans are in court attempting to reverse the very policies that have saved so many lives.

Yup, that’s a special type of stupid and shortsighted.

The false choice between reopening and containing the virus is part of the problem. Done carefully, slowly and patiently — as Pennsylvania is doing — we can reopen the economy safely. Folks have to cooperate: wear masks, wash their hands and work to keep their distance from others when in public. We can knock down 90% of community spread just by doing those three things. If we do that, we quash the virus until there is a workable vaccine.

There really is no good reason not to wear a mask in public.

Some folks claim masks cut off oxygen and trap CO2: nope. Medical and construction people have been wearing N95 masks for decades for eight-hour and longer shifts with no issues. You can wear your fabric mask while going to the supermarket with zero concern.

Other folks claim wearing masks is only useful to keep one’s self safe — in fact, it’s the opposite. The mask prevents you from spewing the virus all over other people if you have it and don’t know. Wearing one only offers minimal protection for the wearer. But the math is clear, wearing one prevents transmission and is the single most effective method to slow the virus.

There’s another group who claim businesses (and it’s a state health rule, too) can’t make you wear masks. Wrong. They also can make you wear shoes, shirts and (gasp) pants when you enter their establishment. It’s their store, they make the rules — don’t like it, shop on the Internet, which doesn’t require pants.

Lastly, there’s the theory that President Donald Trump espoused during and interview this past week with The Wall Street Journal: people are just wearing masks to show opposition to him.

You know what, it is not about him — it is about keeping people safe. Yes, I hope Trump loses this fall, but I wear a mask (a pink one, no less — those were the Level II masks that were available) because I don’t want to get anyone else sick on the off chance I have contracted the virus.

Basically, I give a crap about my fellow man — I’m not trying to make a political statement.

We’ve worked hard to get this contained. And that work must continue to have a safe summer and fall — if we don’t do the little things right in the next few months, we’ll have made everything else, all the sacrifices, the economic hurt, the isolation, pointless.

Chester County can do this.

Be smart. Wear a mask. Finish the job.


For the last 19 Fathers’ Days — I’ve been lucky enough to be a dad to a pair of complicated, exciting, smart kids. They’re college students now, and I can see the finish line in terms of parenting (learning how to not parent sometimes is the hardest thing to figure out — they need to figure some stuff out on their own now).

I feel like I’ve been blessed and although the day is intended as a tribute to dads everywhere, I tend to just feel thankful for the joy that Kenny and Janet have brought to my life.

To all the dads out there: Happy Fathers’ Day.

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