WTVM Editorial 4-29-20: Your choice to make

Updated: Apr. 29, 2020 at 5:23 PM EDT
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(WTVM) - This is the first week of the phased re-opening of the Georgia economy, which is on its knees thanks to the shutdown from COVID-19.

Governor Brian Kemp is allowing personal service providers like hair stylists and nail salons to re-open if they meet criteria for cleanliness and social distancing.

Now, restaurants can re-open their dining rooms again under the same guidelines.

But that does not mean you must leave your house and participate just yet if you are at all insecure about the virus and whether you remain at risk. That is always your decision to make.

As you weigh the risks involved in rejoining local economic activity, there are some statistical facts that may provide some perspective.

First, Georgia is a state of 11 million people. So far, about 22,000 have officially tested positive for the virus – although hundreds of thousands more may have had it and recovered with few symptoms. We just don’t know.

Of the 22,000 patients in Georgia, about 900 have died. For those 900 families, it is an immeasurable loss.

But consider the overall statistics from the Centers for Disease Control. 63% of all COVID-19 hospitalizations were patients over 65 years old.

The CDC says in 90% of all COVID-19 deaths, the patient had at least one major underlying health condition, the most common of which are heart disease, diabetes and asthma.

According to the CDC, there are approximately 52 million Americans 65 and older. The most recent data shows COVID-19 caused 19,000 deaths in that age group.

In the same age group, all combined causes of death took the lives of 489,000 people. That means the mortality rate for COVID-19 patients over 65 is about 0.03%. This low rate does not mean we can stop worrying about the virus.

Clearly, our vulnerable elderly population remains at high risk and must be protected in every way possible.

The rest of us know we face risks all the time in everyday life. We never know when health or nature or fate will call us home.

But deciding when to risk re-joining the outside world is completely your choice.

Just because the Governor allows some businesses to reopen does not mean you are forced to patronize them.

We must all stay informed, listen to the experts and use our good common sense to decide what is best for ourselves.

No government can make that very personal choice for us.

General Manager Holly Steuart brings an editorial a week to WTVM. If you would like to respond to an editorial, e-mail your response to hsteuart@wtvm.com or write to:

WTVM Editorial Committee

1909 Wynnton Road

Columbus, GA 31906

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