EDITORIAL: Precautions

Easing of virus restrictions doesn’t mean danger is gone

People can debate forever whether Gov. Greg Abbott’s decision to begin reopening the Texas economy was premature. Abbott began phased-in and partial reopening of many businesses a month ago. The move surely has enabled some businesses to begin generating revenue and kept them alive. Others, including some local restaurants, initially reopened and then closed again after COVID-19 cases affected them directly.

The different outcomes highlights the difficulty government officials have in making blanket pronouncements; whatever they decide will benefit some people while hurting others.

Fortunately, after initial complaints about local defiance, the governor has allowed local officials to enact their own policies. That’s how it should be, as different parts of the state have different levels of infection — Cameron and Hidalgo County officials recently extended orders requiring the use of face masks in public places; it’s no longer optional.

Again, any such decision will mollify some people and anger others. In cases such as these, however, most people probably understand that it’s best to err on the side of caution.

It’s a complicated matter. Businesses and municipalities are re-closing their doors as they see the number of COVID-19 cases climb in recent weeks.

It’s impossible to know for certain, however, how many reflect the greater availability of tests and more widespread testing.

Reactions by most people are reassuring and commendable. Even after restrictions were eased, an apparent majority of residents continued wearing face masks and taking other precautions.

Merchants that closed their doors didn’t wait for public orders to do so.

Most people apparently are practicing individual responsibility, making decisions that are in the best interests of themselves and their families. That prudence, more than anything else, will help us overcome the pandemic sooner rather than later, and, we hope and expect, lead to fewer infections in the future.

The success of the slow reopening of our economy, and our lives, depends on everyone looking out for their own interests and their families, and continuing to exercise caution. This will allow those areas that have been spared high incidences of the virus to return to normal lives, while those that are harder hit can continue to exercise caution in the name of securing better long term outcomes.

There will always be a few defiant people who insist on asserting their independence, and they might choose to accept the risks that come with their defiance. Let them. If each person focuses on his or her personal safety, the resistors will be less of a threat to the health of others. So let’s keep those masks on, hands washed and sanitizer ready. In fact, we would do well to make such practice permanent habits that help ensure our health and safety, even after the threat of the coronavirus has passed.