On any given day when you open the home page of the Washington Post, readers are greeted with a graphic that should give every citizen in Louisiana pause. It’s a chart that shows the five states with the highest daily reported cases of COVID-19 on a per capita basis. Over the course of the last couple of weeks, Louisiana has been on that graphic every day. That has to change.
As corona cases continue to rise again, Louisiana’s economy is reeling. The COVID pandemic has hit three of our most important sectors, energy, tourism, and global trade. Unfortunately, there is little we can do to mitigate the large external factors that most impact them.
But we cannot allow the new surge of the corona virus to cripple the many other sectors that are vital to our economy and where we can make a difference. That is why in the interests of every citizen’s health, but also our immediate economic vitality, each of us needs to adopt the common sense measures that we know will slow the spread of the virus. There are many reasons for this, but two stand out.
One, is the impact on our economy. What we saw over the last few months is that with tough restrictions on people and businesses, the spread of the corona virus slowed significantly. But the economy tanked, and hundreds of thousands lost their jobs. As businesses reopened, people went back to work, but new corona cases spiked. For the sake of our still vulnerable economy, we need to take hold of the situation and reverse the spread of this disease.
It’s the same with schools. Right now, there is a debate among some about whether schools should reopen. They need to reopen because they are essential services that our communities, families, and economy all need. But if corona cases continue to rise at the rates we’re seeing, it will be difficult for many parents to send their kids back to school, some schools will choose to delay their openings, and others might open only through distance learning. That would wreak havoc across our state.
So what’s the answer? It’s for the people of Louisiana to do like they have done before in the aftermath of hurricanes, floods, and oil spills. Take care of each other. That’s what we do. We take care and look out for one another. The difference this time is we don’t need to rescue people from roofs or rebuild homes. It’s much simpler. All we need to do is use common sense and take the relatively easy steps that are recommended to protect our families, protect our neighbors, and protect ourselves.
We know what that means: wearing face coverings in public, observing social distancing, taking our temperature, washing our hands, and generally being careful. That’s not hard.
If we don’t do these things and the virus continues to spread at the rates we’re seeing, businesses will close, more jobs will be lost, the opening of schools will be jeopardized, more people will get sick, and more people will die. That would be a disaster.
For now, this virus knows no boundaries except those we erect against it. In the interests of all, let each of us commit to one simple thing that we do very well: look out for each other and block the spread of this disease.
As our history shows us, this is who we are, and that is what we do.