America has been social distancing for quite some time, and cases are dropping, which is great. It proves that staying home and out of the public works at stopping the virus. Now, people are antsy to get back to work, and understandably so, considering that they’re cooped up in their homes and not making any money to live in those homes. Additionally, the economy has taken quite a hit, so that is making citizens and politicians both eager to get life back to normal.
The government has announced that the country will start opening back up in phases. The federal government has given a plan for states once they are on a downward trajectory of cases. The problem is, a lot of states have started opening back up without being on this downward trajectory.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has begun opening Florida’s beaches, and people have been flocking in very large numbers. While there are rules of no gatherings larger than 50 people still on the beach, it is not clear if people are following these rules. Given the recent protests of social distancing all over America, following further rules does not seem likely. The state of Texas is trying to be on the front lines of opening up despite being behind on testing, and the state has only been on a stay-at-home order for two weeks.
In Ohio, Gov. Mike DeWine has worked hard with Director of Ohio Department of Health Dr. Amy Acton on mitigating COVID-19 cases and has been one of the leading states handling this pandemic, even receiving international praise for their work. DeWine plans on inducting phase one of opening up Ohio on May 1. Unfortunately, even in Ohio, a state that has been proactive in fighting the coronavirus is still seeing a steady number of cases.
We could very well be in the ending stage of this virus, but we could just as easily be at the beginning of the start of a second wave. We don’t have any idea what’s ahead, but if we look back about 100 years, the Spanish flu is a great example of how this all could become much worse soon.
In March 1918, the first Spanish flu outbreak emerged in America. It died down, but after the world thought it was over, a second wave emerged in October 1918. All in all, around 500 million people were infected, and about 50 million people died — most of these in the second wave.
An example of the premature opening amid the Spanish flu was seen in Philadelphia. On September 28, 1918, before the second wave emerged, a Liberty Loan parade was held to support the war efforts and prompted the second wave in this city. Around 200,000 people lined the streets, and in the weeks that followed, 4,500 people died from flu exposure. Within 72 hours of this parade, all 31 hospitals in Philadelphia were filled. This happened way after the initial outbreak when people thought the carnage from the Spanish flu was long over.
We cannot come out of this social distancing period prematurely. If we do, we could very likely see a second wave of coronavirus cases and, subsequently, deaths. While the health of our economy is important, the health of our citizens is more important. If we re-open the country right now and see a second wave similar to the Spanish flu, all of our work would have been for nothing. We cannot let history repeat itself.
Mikayla Rochelle is a junior studying strategic communications at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those ofThe Post. What are your thoughts? Tell Mikayla by tweeting her at @mikayla_roch.