Link to Owner Dr. Robert B. Pamplin Jr.



When the time comes to reopen, Crook County leaders and residents need to be smart and remain cautious

There is really no way to understate how challenging and burdensome the COVID-19 quarantine efforts have been in Crook County and elsewhere around the country.

Schools are closed, many businesses are closed or are operating as a shell of their usual selves. Gatherings of all kinds are canceled, friends are separated from one another and though people can still get outside and enjoy some recreational activities, they are limited, and that social interaction people enjoy has been ripped away from the process.

The economy is suffering, particularly in rural locations where businesses are not as plentiful, are not as large and do not have the resources to weather what is ultimately a temporary situation. People out of work are trying to find a way through the bottleneck at the employment department in hopes of recovering some of their lost income.

Meanwhile, the news is supersaturated with reports of people getting sick, people dying while separated from their loved ones. The mysterious virus has created a moving target that is causing health experts and elected leaders to project vastly different versions of when this will all end and when things will get back to normal — or if they will get back to normal.

Facing all of this can understandably take its toll in a hurry and make people pine for any light at the end of the tunnel. Any glimpse of removing stay-at-home orders or easing social distancing requirements feels like the best dream ever. Opening the economy and allowing people to have a meal out together or go shopping at stores that are currently closed can't happen soon enough.

Well, there is good news, but it comes with an important caveat. This maddening social distancing stuff is actually working. We are flattening the curve nationally and in Oregon. Discussions about reopening the economy are happening at the federal and the state level. It could happen next month — fingers crossed.

But when that time finally comes, Crook County leaders and residents, and others across the country, need to be smart and remain cautious. Yes, this pandemic situation is improving and yes, it appears that cases are in decline and the number of deaths is going down, but much of that success comes from an abundance of vigilance. We have been washing hands, wearing masks and keeping our distance from people.

When restaurants and bars reopen, people need to continue the practices that got us this far. These numbers need to keep going down. The last thing we want to do is go backward and return to the dreaded days of quarantine. There is nothing quite like a Crook County summer and the better job we all do of slowing the spread of COVID-19, the more we can enjoy it and the quicker things will return to normal.

It's been tough, but this community is doing great. Hang in there and let's reach that light at the end of the tunnel with as little risk of returning to the dark as possible.

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