Cydney Baron

People have the capacity to hold two thoughts at once.

I can value human life and health while also understanding the need to stimulate the economy. One does not preclude the other.

How can this duality exist? By exercising caution and rational thinking.

Our choices are not value health or value economy—we can do both.

CDC guidelines do not prohibit buying gift cards to local boutiques, ordering takeout, or having flowers sent to your mother on Mother's Day.

They haven't urged Americans to cancel their subscriptions, stop buying groceries, or stop fueling up at gas stations. They've asked us to implement precautionary measures when doing so.

Prioritizing safety does not automatically mean devaluing our economy, there is a middle ground.

For the past few days the Progress has been running an unscientific poll on our website. We asked people: "Do you think Rogers County will be ready for phase 2 of the re-opening plan on May 15?"

As of now, 47.5% say yes, 50% says no, and 2.5% said 'I don't know enough about it."

And all three groups are correct.

We don't know enough about COVID-19 to know what the next chapter of our lives will look like. We don't know if it will be back, if it will change, or when a vaccine will be available. None of us know enough about it.

Still, many businesses and individuals look at the case numbers that are holding steady in our community and think we'll be ready to forge on into the next phase of re-opening.

Many think that as the virus is still looming, opening further is simply too risky.

I know our community is hugely dependent on sales tax revenue, and I know I can contribute in my own ways without putting myself or others in danger. I know that immediate action to keep entrepreneurs in business is necessary, and I know an unchecked pandemic would be hugely destructive to economic activity.

Caution and rational thinking are the answer.

In a recent interview Michael Greenstone, an economist at the University of Chicago stated that “even moderate social distancing will save 1.7 million lives between March 1 and October 1, according to disease-spread models...Avoiding those deaths translates into a benefit of around $8 trillion to the economy, or about one-third of the U.S. GDP.”

We can have both.

Out of respect for our friends and neighbors, let's move forwards embracing both trains of thought.

Our community needs our tax dollars and our families need us safe and healthy.

If we're going to do something, let's do it the safest, most cautious way possible.

Wear a mask, wash your hands, exercise social distancing while buying the goods and using the services that will keep our community running.

Cydney Baron is the editor of the Claremore Progress.

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