OPINION: The rush to reopen — about time or too soon?

(Illustration by Julie Freijat | Collegian Media Group)

This week many states across the country are starting to loosen the restrictions of stay-at-home orders that have been previously enforced. The effects of COVID-19 have caused a divide in this country — a divide between politicians and healthcare officials. What follows are arguments made by both sides, as well as my personal thoughts on this controversial topic.

The “it’s about time” argument:

In Federalist Paper No. 45, James Madison argued that the primary purpose of government is that which promotes the people’s happiness. By contrast, stay-at-home orders feel semi-dictatorial in nature and may seem too overprotective or overreaching. Furthermore, if we don’t reopen soon, we run the risk of a recession or worst, a depression.

An estimated 33 million workers across the nation have filed for first-time unemployment benefits over the last several weeks. This not only means they are without jobs, but sometimes without money to pay their bills or buy food.

Kansas is not New York City. As the current epicenter of the pandemic, New York is nearing the 200,000 case threshold, whereas Kansas as a whole has reported about 7,000 cases. A one size fits all approach is unnecessary for all 50 states. It’s clearly time to reopen those areas that have significantly fewer reported cases than many of the more urbanized locations.

The “it’s too soon” argument:

Do you want a recession or a depression? If so, then reopen the economy too soon, and watch the number of reported cases skyrocket. The government will then have to reinstate the stay-at-home orders for another period of weeks. That sounds fun, right?

It’s not time to eat out at your favorite restaurant or go shopping at the city mall. Stay home. We need to listen to our health experts, and not our politicians. We are in the middle of a worldwide pandemic that has killed over 291,000 people globally, and over 83,000 people in the United States, as of May 12, 2020. This is no joke.

Mahatma Gandhi once said the true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members. Those over 65 are being negatively affected by COVID-19 in disproportionate numbers, and young children have also been diagnosed and are dying because of inflammation of arteries caused by the virus. Unless or until there is an effective drug or vaccine, the world is totally different now. There is a new “normal”, and the new normal includes masks, social distancing and stay-at-home orders.

My thoughts:

After being forced to resume the second semester of my sophomore year from my home, away from our college campus, I would be lying if I said I didn’t wholeheartedly resent COVID-19. I think it’s safe to say that students, like me, are ready to return to life before quarantine. They want to visit friends, and most importantly return to their college campuses come fall.

However, being home with both of my parents — one of who is over 65 — has caused my mindset to probably be different than most people my age regarding this pandemic. For me, it’s not just about my personal health, but the realization that getting COVID-19 could be fatal for my parents.

Life will not end and my friends will not disappear simply because I continue to follow social distancing guidelines and not live like I did pre-COVID-19. Everyone’s situation is different, so each person has to do what they believe is right. However, in my opinion, nothing is more important than your health. As my dad tells me from time to time, be smart and be safe. Under the current set of circumstances, the only smart and safe thing to do right now is to stay home.

Andrew Lind is a sophomore in journalism and mass communications and the assistant sports editor of the Collegian. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and the persons interviewed and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to opinion@kstatecollegian.com