Guest Editorial: A New COVID Balancing Act

By Recker McDowell —

Arizona is getting plenty of knocks on social media with posts showing people not wearing masks or social distancing. Those are easy to find and can often have political undertones from both sides.

But there are events, venues and plenty of businesses who have been playing by the rules, requiring masks of customers and attendees, and ensuring social distancing.

The Gilbert Farmers Market, for example, came back last Saturday with plenty of safeguards in place. Masks were required. Vendors stands were spread out. Attendees were encouraged to social distance and not linger in groups. There was no eating at the market which counts as an open-air grocery rather than a large event.  The farmers market is more than just an early weekend stroll. It is life blood for the entrepreneurs and small businesses who man the booths.

There are plenty of other examples of stores, restaurants and businesses doing their best to be safe and protect the health of customers and workers. The reality is that the reverse is what gets clicks and creates social media buzz and political divisions.

As Arizona (and other states including California, Texas, and Florida) battle recent rises in COVID-19 cases, the continued focus needs to be on balancing public health with not destroying the economy, small businesses, and jobs. This balance keeps getting lost in the mix.

We need to protect our most vulnerable neighbors (senior citizens and those with pre-existing conditions) as well as keep in mind the toll COVID-19 has taken on communities with limited access to health care or substantial percentages of residents without medical insurance.

We can see that with COVID’s impact on the Navajo Nation and communities such as Yuma, El Centro, California and parts of New York, New Jersey, and Chicago.

We also need to be aware of the economic and jobs toll COVID is having on consumer spending and the closures are having on small businesses, jobs, and large swaths of the economy.

New COVID measures being adopted in Arizona and other states may be necessary to protect public health but the pandemic’s threats to jobs, and small businesses remain serious.

Finding a balance is not easy with all the stresses, all the political discord and the tenor and tone of social media and media personalities. But balancing public health and caring about our neighbors with caring about our neighbors’ jobs and livelihoods is really the only option we have.