Cliff Sain

Cliff Sain

I’ve never been one to act as though I could predict the future. But the state of the current pandemic really has me throwing my hands up in the air even more than usual.

Like a lot of people, I hoped against all hope that we could do a few weeks of self-isolation, get this pandemic under control and then largely return to our normal lives. Unfortunately, that isn’t quite what has happened.

Fortunately, we are in a position – especially locally – where we have been able to begin the process of reopening our community. Taney County, as of Thursday, only had 12 residents who had test positive for the COVID-19 virus. That’s out of 972 tests. As of Thursday, only two of those positive cases were still active, according to the Taney County Health Department. Even better, a point-in-time project tested 340 individuals in Taney, Stone and Christian counties, and all 340 tests were negative. Stone County hasn’t reported a new case in weeks.

All this evidence shows that we are in a good position to give this reopening a try. There are many local businesses I look forward to visiting again. But beyond my favorite businesses, I don’t want to see any business fail, and especially not because of something they cannot control.

All business owners: I’m rooting for you. We need you; you need us. We are all in this together.

And that statement is important. “We are all in this together.” That includes all the workers, the consumers, the residents, and the most vulnerable in our community. 

In that light, we need to remember to do this the right way. Just because COVID-19 seems to be close to non-exisitant in this area doesn’t mean it can’t come roaring back. If we get a flare up, that’s not going to help any business, worker, resident or vulnerable person.

We have great resources in our local health departments. The Taney County Health Department, on its website, includes COVID-19 Resource Toolkits that can help guide various types of business on how to open safely and responsibly. I encourage you to use that resource. The city of Branson also includes coronavirus updates on its website.

And this is where I return to the first thing I said in this article. I’ve given up trying to predict the future. A month from now, we might look back and wonder why all this was ever considered a big deal, or we might be hunkering down in response to a wave of positive tests.

Although none of us can predict the future, we do have the power to help shape it. If we follow health department recommendations and pay attention to CDC guidelines, and adhere to, at a minimum, the governor’s phase 1 plan, we can help ensure that we reopen in a way that, we all hope, will allow us to have the kind of future where we can continue to reopen more. That’s what will be best for our businesses, our workers, our residents and our most vulnerable citizens.

Shopping is more than just a way to obtain survival goods. It’s not just an endeavor to increase comfort and perhaps indulge in luxuries. It’s a community experience. We all want to go visit our favorite stores, whether they sell books, pet supplies, entertainment, appliances, plants or whatever you’re into. We all want to visit our favorite restaurants and – rather than grab-and-go – sit down and enjoy. But I also don’t want to pose a danger to the person serving my meal, or running the cash register, or helping find that item I can’t locate.

We are all in this together, whatever the future brings.

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