I.C. MURRELL — Timeline to open business can’t predict curve

Published 12:15 am Friday, April 24, 2020

A co-worker Wednesday asked me something pretty profound: “Do you ever find it inevitable that you will contract coronavirus?”

No, because a worrywart attitude is not allowed in my life. But I may as well be asked whether I have coronavirus. That’s a whole different world of unknown.

Without a strong capability to break down science, I figure if I took the necessary precautions and haven’t suffered more than a cough for five seconds, I’m in pretty good shape.

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That’s a 180-degree flip from freshman year in college. I suffered three weeks of sinus hell fighting pollen in a campus full of pine trees and really needed to be rushed to an emergency room. Only back issues years later left me in greater peril.

I’m also the same person who would get sick once every four months on average as a child, once every six months as a young adult and once every year in recent memory.

Much of that can be credited to knowledge of my body, knowing what allergies to avoid, what supplements I need and improving my diet. I was severely underweight until somewhere in the middle of my college days, then I became overweight and had to drop some pounds and keep up muscle mass.

Still, I’m not invincible. You’re not invincible. Just because someone is asymptomatic, doesn’t mean he or she is free from coronavirus.

That should be enough caution for public leaders everywhere who want to reopen the economy.

The question has been asked in so many ways: Have we gotten over the curve in coronavirus cases and deaths? No one really knows, and we won’t until we see a consistent drop in positive tests and know that our community has sacrificed something as precious as an economy for the greater good of public health.

No one can put a timeframe on when we can Make America Coronavirus-Free Again, so how is it that we can rush to reopen businesses? (Do not be mistaken; small businesses still need a stimulus so they can operate smoothly when the proper time comes to open up shop again.)

On a local front, our mayors have not expressed a desire to rush into normalcy. Gov. Greg Abbott might be a little more aggressive and call for the reopening of small establishments, but he has touted recommendations from doctors on how to reopen Texas.

Let’s remember, this is the same governor who has mandated quarantines of anyone driving here from Louisiana, so we’ll see just how tired he is of his own precautions.

In the meantime, I’d like to think closing schools have kept our county from not even reaching 0.1 percent of our population that has been confirmed with the novel virus.

The amount of time we’ve dedicated to social distancing, good hygiene and all that good stuff might have helped ingrain important protocols in our minds for flu season. Even as Washington replenishes Port Arthur, Nederland, Port Neches and Groves with small business stimulus money — and they do need it — that won’t give workers and customers enough facemasks and sanitizers to feel comfortable.

That’s not to say we should stay fearful, but we have more caution to exercise because we don’t truly know how much damage this invisible enemy has the potential of causing.

A curve will come, but so must our discipline.


I.C. Murrell is the editor of The Port Arthur News. He can be reached at 409-721-2435 or at ic.murrell@panews.com.



About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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