Science has been the driving force in the minds of many leaders tasked with handling the response to the coronavirus pandemic.
In Illinois, second-year Gov. JB Pritzker finds himself in the biggest crisis management challenge of his life. He repeatedly points to scientific advice that informs his major decisions in response to the outbreak. Politics, unfortunately, has also entered the picture. Leaders from both parties seemingly can’t resist pointing fingers when fault is found on the other side.
Reason must also have a place at the table.
Amid the shutdowns, closures and sheltering in place, calm, rational thought needs to be considered in the context of the overall response to the deadly virus. In that vein, let’s review the initial response to the coronavirus pandemic in March.
Its goal, as so many leaders stated, was to “flatten the curve” of new COVID-19 infections so that hospitals and medical personnel would not be overwhelmed with an avalanche of new cases.
People, some begrudgingly, understood the logic. In Illinois, as schools were closed, bars and restaurant dining rooms were closed, nonessential businesses were closed, and stay-at-home restrictions were put in place, people tolerated the unprecedented disruptions that were designed to curb the virus’s spread. And the curve, indeed, has been flattened. Hospitals and health care facilities have been able to handle to influx of COVID-19 patients without resorting to extraordinary measures.
What’s next? People throughout the state, both leaders and followers, should engage in reasonable conversations to consider a future path.
Politics needs to stay out out of those conversations. Instead, thoughtful ideas should be considered regarding how different parts of the state can reasonably accommodate human activities that everyone once took for granted.
The coronavirus won’t magically disappear. It will continue to do harm. But people still have to earn a living, feed their families, get educations, provide and receive services, worship and the list goes on.
The emergency restrictions have done their jobs. It’s time for discussions on what reasonable plans should be put into place in different parts of the state to start restoring certain activities that can, with common-sense precautions, be safely resumed.
We don’t pretend to offer solutions ourselves. We believe Illinoisans and their leaders can find common ground to reasonably ease certain restrictions that will allow them to move on with their lives as safely as possible. The time for those discussions is now.