Thursday, April 16, 2020

Craig Ford: I encourage Governor Ivey to follow the doctor's orders, not Senator Marsh's

  When a doctor prescribes a prescription, they usually tell you to take the whole thing and not to stop just because the symptoms go away. The reason is that even though the symptoms may have gone away, the illness is not necessarily dead yet.

  The same holds true for this current pandemic. Right now we are under a stay-at-home order. That is the prescription our state's medical professionals have recommended. And that prescription has gotten results!

  At a press conference with Governor Ivey, Alabama's State Health Officer, Dr. Scott Harris, said that the reason the numbers of infections and deaths related to the coronavirus have improved from the earlier projections "is because we have a stay-at-home order that people have - by and large - taken seriously."

  Even though the numbers of infections and deaths have gone up, things are better than they would have been because we have followed the doctor’s orders. But now some state leaders are encouraging Governor Ivey to stop taking the prescription, even if the illness isn't dead yet.

  Governor Ivey herself has said we may have a resurgence of this virus in the fall, and I can't help but believe that the chances of that resurgence will go up if we rush back to normal life before we are ready.

  As a businessman, I understand all too well the impact this virus is having on our economy and on employers. And there are hundreds-of-thousands of hourly and contract employees who are bearing the brunt of this virus, unable to earn a living or to provide for their families.

  I am as anxious as everyone else to get our people back to work and get our economy growing again. But I also don't want to make things worse by seeing our state leaders rush to return to normal before we are ready.

  I would much rather spend an extra week or two in May under a stay-at-home order than have us all go back to work like normal on May 1st only to see a resurgence later in May and then have to spend June and July under a new stay-at-home order.

  Last week, Sen. Del Marsh, the leader of the Alabama Senate, wrote an editorial encouraging the governor to essentially take half-measures beginning in May to return our economy to normal.

  In a nutshell, Senator Marsh is suggesting that those over 65 years old and those with health conditions such as diabetes, heart problems, recovering cancer patients, and so on, stay home or "use caution" while everyone else goes back to work.

  This is a half-measure. And the thing about half-measures is that you only get half-results and worse outcomes.

  If we do something like what Senator Marsh is proposing - especially if we do it too soon - then we will only see a minimal economic recovery and will almost definitely have a resurgence of this virus.

  First, like you can't just vaccinate a portion of the population from a disease, you can't quarantine only a portion of the population and expect them to stay healthy. They will be around their families and friends at some point, and if those family members and friends are getting exposed to people at work or school, they will bring the virus back to those elderly and vulnerable people.

  Second, if we have a resurgence of this virus, then it will be like starting all over again. The economy will take an even bigger hit, and employees who might only be out of a job for an extra two or three weeks could find themselves being unemployed for another two to three months instead.

  We can't afford to come out of quarantine too soon, or we may end up with an even bigger problem than we already have!

  I don't envy Governor Ivey and the position she is in. And I share her desire to see our state return to normal as soon as possible. But I hope she will listen to the medical professionals instead of Senator Marsh.

  We all want to see life return to normal and get back to work as soon as possible. But we also all want to stay healthy and not see our loved ones get sick or even die from a preventable illness just because we rushed back into normal life too soon.

  So I encourage Governor Ivey to follow the doctor's orders, not Senator Marsh's.

  About the author: Craig Ford is the owner of Ford Insurance Agency and the Gadsden Messenger. He represented Gadsden and Etowah County in the Alabama House of Representatives for 18 years.

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