This is no time to let our guard down


South Bend Tribune

Last week, in announcing new restrictions in response to a COVID-19 surge throughout the state, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb noted, “Unfortunately too many of us have let our guard down.”

You think?

In fact, you don’t have to look far for such concerning signs right here in St. Joseph County, where hospitals are running out of beds for COVID-19 patients:

On election night, more than 150 people attended a Republican watch party in Mishawaka, where few wore masks or social distanced. Although the invitation to the event said masks and social distancing were required, and receptionists at the entrance told attendees of the requirement, no more than a dozen or 15 attendees at any given time appeared to wear masks. The gathering, which included several candidates for local and state offices, clearly ignored guidance from the governor and local health officials.

Two journalists working the event — including a Tribune photographer who was wearing a mask — later tested positive for the virus.

At the conclusion of last weekend’s Notre Dame-Clemson football game, students flooded the field, packing together in a scene that attracted national attention — and criticism. But it’s not just the students who merit criticism. After all, Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick, in addressing what happened in an interview with The Tribune, acknowledged that they’d anticipated such a possible outcome. So why didn’t they do more to prevent it?

On Tuesday — about four months after it was first proposed — the St. Joseph County Council passed a slightly amended version of an ordinance that allows fines against businesses for violations of the county’s face mask order. The ordinance now moves to the Board of Commissioners for consideration. As we said in an earlier comment, it’s disappointing that leaders dragged their feet on the decision for so long.

We know the current situation is frustrating for everyone, but the remedies for getting through this remain the same: wear masks, practice social distancing, wash your hands, avoid large gatherings.

Just a few weeks ago Holcomb had expressed confidence that the state could remain operating at Stage 5 of his reopening plan if Hoosiers continued following coronavirus mitigation strategies. But starting today, he’s stepping Indiana back from Stage 5 and signing pandemic requirements for all Hoosiers and restrictions for counties. Those requirements include social distancing and wearing a mask.

The restrictions will be in place for at least the next month.

The governor said they are trying to avoid businesses having to shut down. Of course, that all may depend on whether too many of us let our guard down.

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