Solomon needed for virus game plan


I must admit these are glum days that requires the wisdom of Solomon. 

The virus is stimulated. Anger and frustration is stimulated. But the economy and our well-being is far from stimulated. 

And common sense sometimes needs CPR shock treatment. 

We know from the Alabama Department of Public Health's coronavirus site that Walker County has been among not only the highest number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state but also the highest rate of cases per 100,000 in the state among counties. (In the top half of the state, Walker and Marion counties have been near the top in per capital figures.) 

It is also quick to see that the area has practically next to no permanent testing sites that are listed, and some area counties have none. I'm afraid with limited testing, the area's per capita numbers are probably worse in than portrayed. One can easily tell this area is not doing social distancing enough. 

Thankfully, enough Alabamians have that it looks like the curve is flattening and hospitals can handle the load. But other areas of the state and the nation have not done their fair share, ranging from meat packing plants to beach goers, from grocery shoppers to senators going to the Capitol gym while waiting for test results. Some businesses have all but forced people to still work. (Fortunately, the Daily Mountain Eagle has been kind to the at-risk.)

Of course, I want businesses to reopen ASAP. I feel for them, and I still go through drive-throughs and get groceries, shopping for two weeks in advance. Shop owners have mortgages, loans and payroll. 

But polling shows two-thirds of Americans are afraid to go back too soon, and that includes me, because of those who are too careless. And I fear we really should have shut down through May; healthcare workers obviously feel May 1 is too soon. But it is clear we can't bankrupt the economy, either. 

Protesting in the streets (at the online encouragement of conservative groups and apparently with the blessing of the president) comes across as insensitive and one-sided, with signs like "I need a haircut" and "Jesus is my vaccine." It has been hurtful for those who lose loved ones and those in healthcare who have suffered to fight this. And it ignores more than the public health need. 

Some businesses do realize if they do reopen, they will still have to deal with the continued absence of those who are following the advice of health professionals, such as the Jefferson County health officer, not to run to the store for unnecessary purchases. It will not be all rainbows; they will be limited sometimes in how many they can even admit. There will have to be certain times and certain phase-in to a plan. And the government will have to get its act together to help out - if it can even help enough. 

The cancellation of the Foothills Festival in September is a signal that this will not go away quick. I think we are in this for a long haul, as all we've done is to flatten the curve by stretching out cases in the future. We've been good in Alabama in not overburdening our hospitals, but that means cases will only be delayed or stretched out. This is only the first quarter, in a sense. I think we will have this for a year and we will have to make long-term changes for that time, much as Americans did in 1918-19, until we find a cure or vaccine. 

Certainly business will have to open, but I think the regional, phased in approach may have to be the norm to keep things on a steady pace. I can tell you for sure - for sure - we are not going back to 100 percent normal immediately, as officials think that would be an invitation for the virus to surge again. 

This will have to be a managed, long-term approach - and even then, we have to play catch up with testing, government stimulus programs, public education of social norms, availability of things such as cleansers, masks and tests, and not just for the hospitals but for the home.

Soloman said, "“Your own soul is nourished when you are kind; it is destroyed when you are cruel.” And he also said, "“In much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow." 

We should be kinder and more considerate to one another in this. At the same time, with what we learn in wisdom will also be harder to carry out and give us sorrow. 

Perhaps even Soloman would have a hard time with this one.