We may be the best weapon against the coronavirus outbreak in Illinois. We have to be.
This is how Governor JB Pritzker put it on Tuesday when he announced that new “level 3” guidelines would come into effect on Friday for the whole state to fight the resurgent pandemic.
We hope everyone is listening and playing by the rules, including those who have resisted COVID-19 restrictions so far.
Unlike some other states, Illinois avoided a second wave of COVID-19 in the summer. But a new wave is definitely here. New cases are increasing exponentially. Deaths are increasing. Hospitals in all parts of the state have more COVID-19 patients than in the spring. Testing supplies are again lacking.
We need to turn the tide.
As a rule of thumb, if you don’t have to do something that connects you with other people, then don’t. Everyone must comply with the existing order to wear masks.
And while the new restrictions are necessary, let’s not forget: A major source of new infections are social gatherings – those dinners and family gatherings that people have despite the risks of mixing households up.
Two words on this: Stop.
On Tuesday, Dr Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, likened the strategy to removing a few dominoes from a long line ready to start toppling. If there is enough space between the dominoes, not all of them will fall.
It won’t be easy. People are struggling with the isolation of being kidnapped. They aspire to reunite with their loved ones. They want to be outside like we were all before the pandemic.
But that will not stop the invisible virus. This will not allow us to move on to a time when vaccines are readily available to reduce the spread of the virus. It will not save lives.
At Level 3, new restrictions will be placed on retailers, gyms, hotels, restaurants, bars, personal care services and other businesses. Casinos, museums and theaters will close. Indoor group sports will be stopped and outdoor sports and recreation will be limited to 10 people or less. A home order will not be included at this time.
In the meantime, we know what we need to do to avoid more drastic actions later.
Limit in-person interactions. Wash your hands. Get the flu shot. Wear a mask. Ignore the invitation to someone else’s house and don’t send one yourself.
Be a domino removed from the line to keep the rest from tipping over uncontrollably. Be a weapon against the virus. Save lives. Be Illinois’ best hope.
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