EDITORIAL/We love our liberty


This coronavirus can infect not only our bodies with physical disease but also our minds with fear, anxiety and hopelessness that together we will overcome.

These symptoms manifest themselves in sleepless nights, the overconsumption of food and alcohol, drugs and malaise.

Man needs purpose. We are designed to work. Accomplishment soothes stress. It is no wonder that when we are told the most important thing we can do is to stay home we are aggravated and restless.

This disease is a problem, and people have called on government like never before to be the answer. But government can really only do two things: spend money and restrict freedom.

Of the former, the government is spending money – trillions of dollars – on direct benefits to individuals, businesses, hospitals, research and more.

Beg the government to spend money and it can do so quickly — and we hope effectively, but we're not getting our hopes too high.

Many complain that their fellow citizens are not following medical guidance and New York has provided a way to snitch. They are congregating in too large of a group or too closely together.

They complain that government is not doing enough to prevent this or that. We are loathe to give government much authority lest they find too much enjoyment in their authoritarian power and are reluctant to surrender it.

Fortunately, Gov. Tate Reeves has initiated a plan to take deliberate steps to re-open the economy while following the advice of state and national health officials.

The Governor has made it clear his worldview is not compatible with closing down private businesses. Every step of the way, he has based his decisions on science and data to bring Mississippi back.

Sure, re-opening the economy risks spreading the virus and increasing infections, but shelter-in-place was never designed to thwart the virus. There will have to be a cure.

The shutdown has been a pause, to get control, to ensure our healthcare infrastructure is not overwhelmed. And it hasn't been.

The state reported recently that 148 ICU beds were occupied due to COVID-19 and 246 ICU beds were available, a 38 percent occupancy rate.

Likewise, 196 ventilators were being used for COVID-19 patients, while 671 ventilators were available. That means only 23 percent of the state's ventilator supply is being used.

No one wants more people in ICU or on ventilators. What we want to see is the infection rate going down — or the flattening of the curve, as they say.

Absent a vaccine or new treatments, this virus isn't going away. If we keep the economy closed for a year, the corona will likely still be here. People will still get sick. People will still need ICU beds and ventilators.

The purpose of shelter-in-place is not to hide until the virus is gone because it won't be gone. The purpose is to ensure our healthcare system can manage the infected. And it can.

We should deliberately re-open the economy state by state, county by county, as the Trump administration has prescribed based on data and science.

Re-opening the economy will not mean things are back to normal. Crowds will be limited. Masks will be worn. Sanitizer will be used. Social distancing will continue. Some states and counties may need to continue sheltering in place.

This isn't a binary choice: shelter-in-place or normalcy. There are steps in between and we should take those steps.

This also isn't a binary choice: health or money. The disparity in health between those below and above the poverty line has always been clear. The answer is not to move everyone below the poverty line.

Those who can work and who want to work need the opportunity to work because that is about public health as well.

Mississippi prepared for the worst. That the worst did not happen is not an indication of over-reaction but that our efforts were successful.

That we have not had refrigerator trucks outside of hospitals for the dead or mass graves is a good thing. Some will not be satisfied until those awful things happen.

The extended shelter-in-place order expires Monday. The extension gave more businesses the opportunity to function. We hope whatever comes next further eases us back into a functioning economy.

We have a ways to go. The infections must decrease and continue that trend for at least 14 days, according to the plan. The projections say that will happen soon, perhaps as early as mid-May in Mississippi. Hold on. We can do this! Tate isn't trying to take our guns like the Virginia governor.

This crisis has thrust most all of us — even if just for a second — into the life some suffer daily, isolated, alone, poor in spirit, needy and mindless. Let's resolve to love better.

Re-opening the economy does not just make economic sense, it makes sense for our mental health and wellbeing.

The Lord made us as relational beings. We are not meant to be alone — or stuck in a single-family dwelling for six weeks with those we love the most. Some are making good use.

As Americans, we love our liberty and that spirit, along with our Faith, will see us through.

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