We understand and support measured steps to reopen businesses and public places in America, as we have said before, but our worries about reopening too much too fast persist.
Take, for example, the decision by Gov. Pete Ricketts, announced on Monday, to ease restrictions on bars and restaurants.
"In 89 counties — including the Omaha and Lincoln areas — bars and restaurants will be allowed to open dining rooms to 100 percent of their capacity, up from the current 50 percent. Patrons will again be permitted to belly up to the bar. And maintaining a six-foot distance between tables will become a recommendation rather than a rule enforceable by a possible misdemeanor charge," the Omaha World-Herald reported.
On June 10, Gov. Kim Reynolds lifted a 50 percent capacity limit for businesses in Iowa, including bars, restaurants, and theaters, effective June 12.
Ricketts and Reynolds cited a decline in coronavirus numbers in their states as the reason for their decisions, but we can't help but wonder: Is this, in fact, a good idea? Shouldn't reduced capacity rules remain in place, at least for a little while longer?
During their announcements, the governors spoke of the continued need for social distancing and enhanced hygiene steps, but will the public listen and heed recommended safety precautions? If recent stories, photos and video of Americans emerging from their quarantines to swarm popular places of relaxation and recreation in maskless, shoulder-to-shoulder throngs are any indication, the answer to that question is, well, maybe not so much.
Reminders of the fact this pandemic - total virus numbers in the U.S. have exceeded 2.2 million cases and more than 120,000 deaths as we write this - continue to emerge.
According to data from Johns Hopkins University reported by CNN on Thursday, in 23 states - Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Oregon, Louisiana, Montana, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming - new virus cases from one week to the next are on an upward trend; 10 states - Florida, Alabama, Arizona, California, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina and Texas - experienced a record high seven-day average of new coronavirus cases per day last week.
According to the Johns Hopkins data, Nebraska is one of eight states (including South Dakota) with steady numbers of new cases and Iowa is one of 18 states with a downward trend.
The fact numbers in Nebraska, South Dakota and Iowa have leveled off or are on the decline is, of course, good and something all of us who live and work in these states want to see continue. No one wants another shutdown and to be forced back inside their home.
Bottom line, the point we wish to make today is a simple one of vigilance. Leaders of our Siouxland states should not throw all caution to the wind in a rush to full normalcy or they risk the recent spike in numbers we see in other states.
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.
Concerned about COVID-19?
Sign up now to get the most recent coronavirus headlines and other important local and national news sent to your email inbox daily.