It was bound to happen sooner or later.
We’ve all been cooped up for a month or more, so now some of us are starting to go a little stir crazy. OK, maybe more than “some of us.” Maybe it’s more like “most of us.” Possibly even “all of us.”
Even so, those feelings shouldn’t be what we use to determine whether it’s safe to start “reopening” the states and trying to resume our lives as they were before the COVID-19 virus struck.
Over the last few days, there have been some protests in state capitals, including Colorado’s, over the stay-at-home orders put in place to limit the spread of the virus. President Donald Trump seemed to be expressing his support for the protesters via Twitter, urging that the states be “liberated.”
Liberated from what exactly, is the question. In his daily briefings on COVID-19, Trump has shared air time with the medical professionals among his team of advisers who have been saying, and continue to say, that the stay-at-home orders and social distancing guidelines are necessary.
Trump seems to be contradicting his own team’s advice by suggesting those rules could be bent or disregarded entirely by people who feel like their personal liberty is threatened.
This is a tough situation for all of us. As Americans, we’re accustomed to being able to go wherever we want and do whatever we want, within reason. This virus has led to restrictions on some of our freedoms. What we’re experiencing doesn’t feel natural or comfortable.
That said, we need to be smart and disciplined in this situation. Medical experts say that if our society reopens too quickly, then we could be exposing ourselves to a second wave of the virus even worse than the first wave.
That’s not easy to hear, particularly if you can’t do your job as long as we’re stuck in quarantine. Or if you own a company that’s doing significantly less business, or none at all, as a result of the lockdown.
There are real economic consequences to a prolonged shutdown. But there are real physical consequences to making it easier for the contagion to spread, too ― namely, widespread sickness and death.
We know there are some who reflexively cry “fake news” any time they hear something that disagrees with their world views and/or inconveniences them in some way. There’s nothing fake about this, however.
The danger is real and those who ignore it are putting not only their own lives and the lives of their loved ones at risk, but also the lives of people they don’t even know and have no right to put in peril.
That’s how we got the popular expression: “Your rights end where mine begin.”
If current trends continue, Gov. Jared Polis is going to be under increasing political pressure to lift Colorado’s stay-at-home orders as soon as possible. He needs to stick to his guns and follow the best advice of medical professionals about when and how to ease the restrictions.
Free speech and peaceful protest are among the greatest rights enshrined in the U.S. Constitution. But as then-President Abraham Lincoln said many years ago, the constitution isn’t a death pact.
We shouldn’t treat it like one.