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OUR OPINION: America needs to do better on social distancing

OUR OPINION: America needs to do better on social distancing


Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, three guidelines have been driven home by health experts over and over again.

Wash your hands. Wear a mask. Social distance.

Simple, but invaluable steps we all should embrace.

Incredible as it is this far into the global COVID-19 crisis, however, it's clear Americans as a whole have more work to do when it comes to social distancing.

Troubling stories and images continue to emerge this summer of largely maskless throngs crowding together for recreation and fun - too often followed by stories of increased virus cases in those same places. Here in Iowa this month, a lack of attention to the need for social distancing is intersecting with the start of classes in K-12 public schools and at the state's three public universities. Leaders at Iowa State University, the University of Iowa and the University of Northern Iowa have threatened students who don't practice proper social distancing with punishment, including suspension.

To those of us doing our part to behave responsibly - not only for ourselves, but in the name of the greater good - unsafe irresponsibility is maddening.

Here's a quick review of where we stand on the coronavirus.

From 10 a.m. Tuesday to 10 a.m. Wednesday, Iowa recorded 817 new confirmed cases of the virus, pushing the state's total to almost 58,000. Our state is among 28 states experiencing an escalation of community spread this week, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. As we write this, the U.S. is closing in on six million COVID-19 cases and 180,000 coronavirus deaths.

And no vaccine exists.

Too many Americans are ignoring these facts as if the virus is something from the past.

In response, health authorities, federal, state and local government leaders and private-sector leaders must continue to preach and, if necessary, seek ways to enforce rules and recommendations for social distancing. To this end, we applaud the stern warnings issued by Iowa's public university leaders.

As we have said before, we support reopening of businesses and public places with proper safeguards in place, but that won't work if Americans don't remain vigilant to realities by continuing to follow precautions.

Bottom line: Each of us as individuals must step up and do his or her best to help all of us safely navigate what's left of this pandemic.

Our Opinion editorials represent the consensus view of The Sioux City Journal editorial board. Members of the board include: Bruce Miller, editor; Michael Gors, editorial page editor; Dave Dreeszen; managing editor; Tim Hynds, chief photographer.

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