AS I SEE IT
By Neal A. Shipman
It was a relatively easy, but painful, decision for governors across the United States to call for safety precautions to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. And by most measures, the actions to limit people from dining in restaurants, going to bars, attending concerts and sporting events, along with a host of other business restrictions has worked.
While the number of positive COVID-19 cases, as well as the number of people who have lost their lives in this nation to the virus is staggering, after seven weeks of living with these restrictions it is time for the governors to start reopening the biggest economy in the world.
Why is now a time to start reopening America and North Dakota?
The answer is obvious.
First, because of COVID-19, never in recent history have so many Americans been seeking unemployment after they were laid off from their jobs. As of April 27, there are more than 26 million American unemployed, the greatest number in the history of the United States. And in North Dakota, it is estimated that there are over 70,000 people unemployed, another record.
Second, the American economy is hemorrhaging. According to economists, the United States could see its gross domestic production drop by 30 percent just in the second quarter of this year.
Without a doubt, COVID-19 has changed the world and the United States. We have learned, adapted and changed the way that we are living, working and interacting with others. We’ve accepted social distancing and taking necessary safety precautions.
But Americans cannot live in fear of the virus or of another outbreak. And neither should our politicians.
What Americans need is optimism that they can return to a normal life. Schools need to plan for their May or June graduations. Communities need to be able to plan for their summer special events. And business owners need to be able to see a clear and concise pathway for the reopening of their stores.
Gov. Burgum and his team has done a tremendous job of developing plans to manage COVID-19 in our state. And he has promised that he is willing to start reopening North Dakota when he believes that the time is right.
And in small town North Dakota, the time to reopen businesses is now.
Yes there is a risk.
But is the risk of being exposed to COVID-19 any greater when a person decides to go into a small town pharmacy or hair salon than if they decided to shop at a big city box store that is seeing thousands of customers daily? Probably not.
Gov. Burgum has advised state residents to be North Dakota Smart when it comes to preventing the spread of the coronavirus. And they have listened and done so.
Now is the time for the governor to trust business owners to be North Dakota Smart as to how to safely reopen, while protecting their workers and customers.