The Gatepost Editorial: Flattening the curve

Every generation has come together to overcome the great obstacles of their time. 

We’re asking our generation to overcome our great obstacle by staying apart. 

The obstacle we face today is COVID-19, a rapidly spreading respiratory disease that has infected 1,838 people in Massachusetts and caused 15 deaths in our state as of Wednesday. 

With vaccines still being tested and no cure available as of yet, the number of affected individuals will not go down on its own. It will only continue to rise unless everyone does their part to flatten the curve. 

Medical professionals across the country are recommending we stay home and practice social distancing to lower the risk of getting ourselves sick. We also don’t want to get our older loved ones and others who may not have strong immune systems sick. 

We agree with what the professionals are saying – stay home. At this point, it may be the only chance we have to truly flatten the curve until a vaccine can be created – which, according to health professionals, could take up to 18 months.

In an effort to keep COVID-19 at bay, Gov. Charlie Baker has ordered all “non-essential” businesses in the state to close their doors to the public and issued a “stay-at-home” advisory to residents Tuesday.

However, in its announcement, “The Baker-Polito Administration does not believe Massachusetts residents can be confined to their home and does not support home confinement for public health reasons,” according to a March 23 press release. 

While we agree with this advisory, it does not provide clear instructions or strict consequences for residents to remain home.

And while the formal stay-at-home advisory was only issued a few days ago, it is just that – an advisory. 

It is essentially the same advice we have been hearing for the last three weeks: stay home, only go out in an emergency, and wash our hands.

Gov. Baker needs to take a more assertive in responding to this crisis. .

For example, the list of “essential” businesses still open  is disastrously long.

While it is obvious businesses such as medical labs, grocery stores, and pharmacies must remain open, businesses such as liquor stores and Dunkin’ Donuts have been deemed essential as well. 

This not only puts their employees at risk, but everyone else who needs their morning cup-of-joe, and believes it is OK to leave their house for it because it has been deemed “essential.”

Baker’s order allows for establishments that sell food and beverages, such as restaurants and bars, to operate through delivery and take-out, as long as they continue to follow social distancing protocols. 

We recognize the benefits of these establishments remaining open, such as continued employment for workers and the aid they have been providing to truck drivers while they work day and night to keep the shelves stocked with essentials. 

However,  there needs to be more action taken on the government’s part to minimize the risk of further ?

The stay-at-home advisory only “advises” residents to adhere to the recommendation to avoid unnecessary activities and travel, but does not require them to do so. 

You have most likely heard this several hundred times since this pandemic began, but please, stay home.

Symptoms may not appear for two weeks and at that point, it’s too late – you’ve likely already infected other people. 

It isn’t just about you getting sick – it is your parents, grandparents, and really anyone who is in less-than-perfect health.

We don’t know about you, but our large iced coffees can wait if it means we can protect our loved ones from getting sick.

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