#Editorial: The New Normal Isn’t Easy

MIAMI, Florida – In less than two weeks, life in America has taken a drastic change from what was considered normal. Each day more businesses, places of entertainment, schools, and even churches announce temporary closure. Entertainment and sporting events have been postponed or cansporting events and tournaments, as the nation tries desperately to halt the spread of the novel coronavirus that continues to infect and kill more people daily.

One of the obvious ironies of the new environment the dreaded virus has created is that with suppressed world oil prices, local gas prices have fallen to less than $2.00 per gallon in parts of South Florida, but there is no need for much driving. The bumper-to-bumper traffic on main thoroughfares during peak hours is no longer an issue in recent days as schools are closed and more people are required to work from home.

Not surprisingly, there are people complaining about the drastic change in their normal life routine, as the closures are announced, and they have little alternative to being confined to their homes. People have been overheard in public places saying local and federal government response to the coronavirus crisis is being overdone. Obviously, these people have no idea of the seriousness of the coronavirus and the potential danger for their lives. Either they are totally oblivious to the danger or are plain selfish, given the daily reports of new coronavirus cases and the rising death toll.

One of the main criticisms being heard has to do with the closure of schools. Some people are saying it wasn’t necessary to close schools since the virus has a more negative effect on seniors over age 60 than young people under 18. But not only young people under age 18 are on school campuses each day. Teachers and other staffers on a school campus could easily be contaminated with the virus in their homes and spread the virus to students, who unknown to them can be cross-contaminated and take the virus home and spread it to their families including family members over age 60.

Although data pertaining to the spread of the coronavirus in the U.S. indicate many patients contracted the disease through foreign travel, there has been a significant number of patients who contracted the disease from what is referred to as “community spread.” This means the disease is spreading within the community through personal contact from people who didn’t travel to a foreign country where the virus was prevalent.

People, mainly sports enthusiasts, are complaining about the suspension of major sporting events including the NBA tournament, in which the local team, the Miami Heat was involved in a strong playoff run this year; and the excitement of the NCAA, the college basketball tournament in March, aptly called March Madness. Fans of these sporting events were willing to stay away from the events and watch televised games played in arenas and stadiums without spectators. But like the schools, players and coaches can be infected through community contact outside the environment in which games are played and pass on the infection to others including fellow players and coaches.

People are also concerned and critical the mass closures and preventative measures being taken across the country is having an effect on the normalcy of the current political season. The new normal will involve less, if any, of the large raucous political rallies. Large crowds are the environment in which the virus spreads most easily. But this doesn’t mean political campaigning will stop. It just has to be different, with concentration placed on a campaign involving the traditional media (print, radio, and television), social media, email, and direct mail.

The restrictions brought about by measures to curb the coronavirus spread comes in the middle of the presidential primary season, but this should not deter people from voting. People fearful of going out to polling stations can and should take advantage of voting by mail. More people have been doing so in recent elections, and more focus should be given to this method of voting this year.

The public should understand that these measures are being employed to guard against the community spread of the coronavirus because it’s a new virus that still needs to be studied. It’s not even certain how the virus is spreading, how long the pandemic will last, and how best to treat the virus in the absence of a curative vaccine. The best and only way to control the virus is to minimize personal contact, especially in crowded places. Unfortunately, the situation could get worst as a complete lockdown of communities across the nation is still possible.

People are urged to be sensible and cooperate with the measures being taken. If Americans play their part to contain the virus, it’s quite possible the inconvenience and hardships being experienced now will be short-lived, and the community can return to normal before too long.  Everyone is in this predicament together, it’s best to work together to end it.

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