To open or not to open?

COMMENTARY

Vero Beach City Council practices social distancing. Do you?

MILT THOMAS

Pressure is coming from all sides to open more businesses in Vero Beach and Indian River County, but most of that pressure is on you, the citizens.

While most of us have spent enough time at home these past few months to last a lifetime, we must look to balance two divergent views about returning to some form of normal or remaining in a protective environment. Indian River County as a whole has weathered the pandemic very well so far. Most cases are within Vero Beach, which has shown a drop off of new infections. The state has handled the virus better than some in that the majority of infections are in the metropolitan areas and those areas are still under stricter guidelines.

Clearly, we would all like a return to normal. As businesses are being permitted to open, people are out and about in much higher numbers and optimism is in the air. But is it really any safer now for you and me?

According to health experts, the most important prerequisite for “returning to normal” is a vaccine. Since that is not currently available, the most important known prerequisite is testing. In Indian River County as of today, about 2300 tests have been administered with 101 positives. The Indian River County population is about 160,000. It is probably safe to say the percentage of people tested does not accurately predict the number of cases that might exist. In fact, I just called about getting tested and I was asked if I had any symptoms. Not that I know of, I answered.

But I do know that symptoms are not necessarily present for people to have the virus and transmit it. The only way to be certain you do not have it is by testing. Without universal testing, no one really knows how safe or dangerous it is to go out in public – unless you take the well-known necessary precautions.

It is probably okay to go out if you avoid crowds, wear a mask, practice social distancing, keep your hands off your face while you are out shopping and wash your hands thoroughly after you return home. This way you are protecting yourself from people who don’t wear masks and act indifferent or belligerent towards those who do protect themselves. For those folks, remember this: wearing a mask helps keep your identity hidden; by not wearing a mask, your identity is available for all to see and note.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 comments

  1. Seems to me that it would be a fruitless exercise–to say nothing of a highly expense exercise–to test everyone.

    Social distancing and masks are here to stay–until there’s a vaccine. It seems that the mandatory use of masks at the time of the outbreak are receiving 100% of the credit in South Korea for stopping the spread. They tested plenty but that doesn’t stop it.

    The only economic case that could be made for asymptomatic testing is for those who cannot be socially distant–like caregivers.

    The problem with testing everyone is that the test only tells you about today, not tomorrow or the next day.
    To follow your logic we would test everyone everyday? Who’s going to pay?

    Testing in our county is at 30% of capacity. I’d be in favor of allowing anyone who wanted to–but is otherwise not eligible–to pay $100 for the test. My guess is there would be about 100 people in the County who would do so.

  2. Yes, masks and distancing work, but not when a growing number of people do neither. I would be happy to know who has the virus today so we at least know how large a problem we are dealing with. We don’t know with 2300 tests administered so far on a population of 160,000. Nationally, only 10 million tests for 350 million.

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