Businesses are set to re-open with some limitations this week. Personally, I would divide this opening into two segments: Medical and Non-medical.
For the medical portion, I believe it is the appropriate thing to do. In Austin and Travis County, about 6 people die each DAY from cancer and heart disease. (https://www.austintexas.gov/…/Epidem…/CHI_Report_3.20.17.pdf).
So far about 6 people a WEEK have died in our region of COVID. Some of these are preventable or at least the duration of quality life may be prolonged. Considering that mass testing of the population is nowhere in sight, we need to go back and start treating and preventing disease. That having been said many groups such as mine, Austin Gastroenterology, are taking a methodical path. We are opening just a few endoscopy rooms at first. We all have N95 masks which are tested to the individual to be sure they are fitted correctly. Patient attendants wait in the car. I am confident we are not overlooking any safety measures that could possible be implemented. I strongly believe the risk/benefit ratio for the community weighs in favor of us reopening.
For the non-medical portion of reopening, let me admit that I just don’t know. It is truly not predictable. Are we dipping our toe into the water or doing a cannonball into the deep end? (The splash being COVID viral particles). Is it cracking the window and letting in some much needed air, or are we opening the door and inviting in COVID? We will find out. Restaurants, malls, and movie theaters can open at 25% occupancy in Texas with social distancing. Until we gather data on how this impacts the populace, it will be even more incumbent on the individual to protect themselves and their family. With more societal movement there is increased cumulative exposure risk with everyone we interact with. Meaning in terms of exposure of COVID, when you are in close proximity to someone, you are in fact in close proximity to everyone that THEY have been in close proximity with.
So paradoxically, as there is loosening of the reins in the quarantine, I would recommend tightening the reins in your personal life. Six feet. Masks in public spaces. Wash those darned hands! Of course the thing that works best and is the hardest thing to do – Stay Home. (Full disclosure–I do not always practice what I preach).