Return to normalcy depends on us all


In one way, protesters in Ohio and around the country demanding businesses be reopened are giving voice to all of us.

Who isn’t tired of being stuck at home, a hostage of the COVID-19 pandemic?

Who isn’t anxious to return to work, worried about an ever-dwindling checking account as bills pile up?

Who wouldn’t prefer to visit a favorite restaurant instead of subsisting on another round of fast-food takeout or a box of bland macaroni and cheese?

Who wouldn’t enjoy going to see a movie or a play instead of another evening of Netflix?

Who isn’t eager to venture to a favorite bar or club and catch up with friends?

The frustration felt by the protesters is understandable and widely shared. All of us are ready to return to normal life. All of us want to go back to the way things were.

That is especially true of small-business owners, who typically do not have the deep pockets required to stay in operation for long without regular customers.

That’s why a group of Orrville citizens calling themselves “Playground Patriots” have defied public health orders and allowed their children to play in Orr Park.

It’s why an online petition — tied to the Ohio Gun Owners group and Joseph Healy, a member of the Franklin County Republican Party’s Central Committee — is calling for the GOP-controlled Ohio General Assembly to impeach Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, a fellow Republican.

It’s why the Ohio House last week passed a bill, which DeWine said he would veto if it reached his desk, to limit health director Dr. Amy Acton’s power to issue stay-at-home orders.

We just want our lives — and livelihoods — back.

But the vast majority of us also know why we can’t yet return to normal life — it simply isn’t safe to do so. The novel coronavirus continues to spread in the state, the country and around the world. In the United States, COVID-19 cases aren’t going down. Outside of New York, they’re still going up. The curve has not been flattened.

And that’s with social distancing having been in place for nearly two months. Take that away, crowd people together again, and we will almost certainly experience an exponential increase in cases. Even a partial reopening, as Ohio has begun, threatens to send our numbers in the wrong direction.

That’s made all the more likely because of the almost inexplicable rejection of face masks and social distancing by many of those pushing hardest to reopen businesses.

“No one is stopping anybody from wearing a face mask. But quite frankly, everyone else’s freedom ends at the tip of my nose. You’re not going to tell me what to do, and there’s a lot of people that feel that way,” said Republican state Rep. Nino Vitale of Urbana, who presumably doesn’t feel the same way about being forced to drive on the right side of the road.

Largely because of a failed early response by the federal government to test and quarantine, the U.S. is the world’s epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, with one-third of all confirmed cases and nearly one-third of the confirmed deaths. Now it will take all of us, collectively doing the right things, to get back to normal life.

Previous generations of Americans joined together and rose to conquer the challenges that confronted them.

Will we do the same?

— Akron Beacon Journal; Online: https://bit.ly/3dATauX