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Ready or Not, Here We Go
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opinion columns
by Richard Harris

From the April 22, 2020 issue of The Journal
   Okay, folks. Ready or not, here we go. Governor Kemp and our state's highest officials have decided to start opening things back up in spite of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
   There have already been very dramatic – and very different – responses from Georgians.
   Some say, "It's about time," while others say it's not only premature, but is also "a slap in the face to healthcare workers and the elderly."
   So, does the recent lessening of restrictions signal that there is light at the end of the tunnel ... or is the light from an oncoming train?
     I don't know.
   Yes, you heard it here first. A member of the media admits that he's not an expert and can't tell you what will happen.
   Guess what else? You don't know either.
   Even the experts don't know for sure. They have educated guesses and we should definitely listen to them and take their advice to heart. However, I don't think there's a single person who knows exactly what the correct balance should be between personal freedom and collective safety.
   Personally, I plan to continue living not in fear, while also taking precautions. I will, at least for a while longer, limit my travels and my exposure to crowds, while using copious amounts of hand sanitizer when I do venture out. When I have to go inside a store I'll even try to make myself wear that dang uncomfortable mask that my wife insists I take with me.
   For at least a little while longer, when I visit my parents, I'll pull a chair up on the deck outside and ask them to sit in one on the other side of the deck. I want to hug my Mom again (didn't realize how much I'd miss that), but due to age, she and my Dad are in the high-risk group. I need them to take this seriously so one day I'll have the opportunity to have many more hugs.
   Is it fair that as a member of a low-risk group I have more freedom than my parents? No. Fortunately, I know that they know life isn't fair, because that's a lesson they have taught me.
   While I'm uneasy about the message that the governor's order sends, I also hope people won't blow it out of proportion.
   If you see your neighbor roll up with his pickup bed full of lumber that he picked up for a home project, it doesn't necessarily mean that he also picked up the coronavirus while at the store and that the whole neighborhood will soon be in the hospital fighting for life.
   Remember, the purpose of the social distancing and sheltering-in-place was not to prevent anyone from getting the virus. As I recall, the experts said the purpose was to "flatten the curve" so not as many people would get it at the same time, which would lead to a shortage of hospital beds, ventilators, etc.
   The only true light at the end of the tunnel will come when enough of us have been exposed to the virus that we develop "herd immunity." We shouldn't try to hasten that process, but we should face the reality of it.
   At some point an effective vaccine will be available, but even then, based on what I've seen on social media, an alarming number of people won't get it because they think it's somehow related to either Satan himself or his minions who are preparing to usher in the New World Order and One World Government.
   As for me, I'll continue to live while using my head. I hope you'll do likewise.