Without Brazoria County Judge Matt Sebesta’s order requiring non-essential businesses to close and adding enforcement teeth to other restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of coronavirus, it wouldn’t have been long before they were announcing dozens of new COVID-19 cases each day.
Daily gatherings in parks and meetings in businesses appeared to remain regular occurrences in the county despite orders from Gov. Greg Abbott that they be limited to 10 people or less — or better yet, not happen at all. Too many people didn’t behave as though a highly contagious, potentially deadly virus could be lurking undetected in a co-worker or casual friend and went about their regular lives.
That behavior is unacceptable when people are getting sick through social contact — and hundreds of Americans of all ages have died because the threat wasn’t taken seriously.
The county gets reports of workers continuing to congregate in meetings and lunch rooms, which needs to stop, County Public Health Services Director Cathy Sbrusch said.
Bored people also need to restrict their activities to essential trips. Just because the grocery or department store is open doesn’t mean it’s the right time to pop in for a couple things that can wait. Packed parking lots at Kroger, H-E-B and Walmart indicate hysteria and hoarding might have ebbed, but haven’t gone away entirely.
And when people are allowing anxiety to override common sense and the safety of others, there is one effective way to convince them to stay safe at home — make them.
The county’s order will take effect at 6 p.m. today, forcing people to put off manicures and haircuts, getting an awesome new tattoo and playing eight-liners. Businesses that stay open should operate “in a smart way,” as Sebesta said Wednesday.
Restrictions will remain in force until at least April 3, though it could be extended based on what medical experts advise. Whether that happens has more to do with us than our county leaders.
Residents complying with the order will mean it can be lifted in a shorter period of time; continued defiance of the common-sense restrictions will mean the threat of the virus will be around longer because it will continue to be passed from one person to another.
Stop the spread by staying home and taking the threat seriously.