Editorial: As the suburbs reopen, let's work to stay well
Over the weekend, we witnessed crowds on the national news swarming in oblivious celebration with minimal precautions at sites around the country, as if the pandemic were a harmless rumor, not a deadly reality.
Let that not be us.
America crossed a dark benchmark Wednesday: 100,000 people lost to the COVID-19 pandemic.
To put that number of lives into perspective, imagine if the populations of Downers Grove and Hoffman Estates disappeared, if suddenly both towns were emptied.
In Illinois, after the relative encouragement of two consecutive days with death tolls below 40, Wednesday brought the harsh news of 160 more deaths and Thursday presented word of another 104, reminding any doubters among us that this thing isn't over.
With that as a backdrop, our suburbs today tiptoe into the reopening.
To be sure, today is not a return to normal.
It is instead a ginger reopening.
We hold our collective breath.
Illinois begins the reopening because it has been inevitable that a reopening must occur, because the business community's survival depends on it, because the unemployment lines call for it, because so much of the public longs for it, because our combustible politics demands it.
But the truth of it is, no one really knows how this will turn out.
The coronavirus has not been quelled. The risk to public health has not evaporated.
Practice temperance in this reopening.
Let us reopen with class.
Let us reopen well and responsibly and minimizing the risks.
Let us look out for one another, take care for all those who interact with us and may interact with us.
From a social distance, we put virtual arms around our local merchants and restaurateurs and shopkeepers and wish them Godspeed. This pandemic has threatened not just lives but also their life's work.
We, and by that we mean all of us, rely not only on their courage but also on their absolute sense of responsibility. We thank them for it and encourage them in it.
So much of their clientele's health depends on the precautions they take to keep their places of business safe -- not just the overt things that the public sees but the unseen steps they take behind the counter as well.
Offer curbside check-in and curbside service wherever possible.
Wear a mask and insist that others do, too.
Enforce social distancing requirements, particularly for those who wait in line or indoors.
Require registrations that allow for contact tracing if a COVID-19 case is diagnosed.
What a hard time this has been for all the lives it has touched and in all the ways it has touched them. Unfortunately, challenges still lie ahead for all of us.
We must respond to them with resolve and with strength, with good judgment and with discipline.
We must respond with faith in ourselves, with confidence in our ability to persevere.
Because we will.
Because throughout our history, we have responded that way when faced with great peril.
And throughout our history, we have persevered.
As we step into this ginger reopening, exercise good judgment and behave responsibly.
As we step into this ginger reopening, look out for the welfare of others.
As we step into this ginger reopening, stay home if you're at high risk for severe complications.
Above all, to all of you: Stay well.