For many North Carolinians, it feels as though they’ve hit the pause button on their lives. Their days have slowed down. Many are out of work and wondering, when - if ever - they’ll be able to return. Children want to go back to school and be with their friends and run free on the playground.
We need to reassure them that their lives can and will begin again.
We’ve spent countless hours thinking about what targets we have to hit before we can reopen the state. It’s folly to think that it’ll be as simple as flipping a switch. There will be no “bat signal” in the sky telling us it’s time to move on from this.
Which is why we need to have a prudent, thoughtful approach to reopening the state. We can do that by letting our rural counties lead the way. We do not have to make sweeping changes; instead we can make smart, methodical changes allowing for life to slowly begin again Main Street by Main Street.
This virus we’re fighting hasn’t hit every county equally. What is good for Yancey County might not be good for Wake County. We’ve already seen counties issue stricter orders than Governor Cooper’s to address specific concerns. It makes perfect sense to use that same thought process for reopening counties.
Large, urban centers have seen the virus spread quickly. We have counties in the eastern and western part of the state that have seen zero cases.
That is why counties that haven’t been heavily impacted by the virus should be able to start the process of opening up by allowing businesses to open at 50% capacity with necessary safety precautions like social distancing.
Those counties can also put guidelines in place to allow individuals who are 65 or older or who have underlying health conditions to continue to stay at home for their health and safety.
In order to get to that point, we know we need to focus on getting hospitals personal protective equipment and arming ourselves with the best, most accurate data possible to back-up decision making.
We need to find a better way to assure the public that we are making decisions with their health and safety in mind. Because we cannot have a one-size-fits-all approach to reopening, we need all our healthcare providers and the state to partner together to share critical information like testing, capacity and staffing levels. Being transparent about the state of our healthcare system will not only clue our citizens into the decision-making process, but it’ll also allow hospitals to start thinking about when they can open up again for elective surgeries.
We can defeat this. We will defeat this.
But until the last patient is cured, we need to think about what comes next. We must follow the lead of our counties, allowing local leaders to make the best call for the health and safety of their residents.
They have boots on the ground. They can see the impact this virus is having on their cities and towns. With their help, North Carolina can conquer the coronavirus, Main Street by Main Street.