Editorial: As we enter Phase 4, don't forget the care that got us here

  • Wearing masks while in public is one of the reasons Illinois has been able to achieve levels of safety allowing us to enter Phase 4 of the reopening plan.

      Wearing masks while in public is one of the reasons Illinois has been able to achieve levels of safety allowing us to enter Phase 4 of the reopening plan. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Shoppers enter and exit Costco for grocery shopping as they wear face masks and gloves during the coronavirus outbreak in Northbrook, Ill., Saturday, April 11, 2020.

    Shoppers enter and exit Costco for grocery shopping as they wear face masks and gloves during the coronavirus outbreak in Northbrook, Ill., Saturday, April 11, 2020.

 
Updated 6/26/2020 9:47 AM

We've come a long way to get to this point: more than 100 days of many of us sheltering in place, keeping our distance from one another, washing our hands endlessly, wearing masks in public, avoiding touching just about anything that isn't ours, finding our entertainment at home, cooking for ourselves.

Were it not for all of this mindfulness, care and attention to detail, we likely wouldn't be ready to move into Phase 4 of the state's pandemic response plan today.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Achieving this benchmark is cause for celebration -- measured, careful celebration -- that we've managed to flatten the curve to the point that the average daily infections and deaths have been reduced significantly.

Still, the daily statistics of those becoming infected with and dying with COVID-19 remind us we are not beyond this yet. Nearly 7,000 have died in Illinois, and the virus is still spreading.

There is no cure, no vaccine.

It's because of the sacrifices we've made and the care that we've taken that has put us in a position to take another step toward a more normal existence today.

That doesn't mean that we should act like Disneyland patrons when the gates open, sprinting with abandon toward whatever it is we yearn to do again.

Let's not screw this up and invite a relapse.

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As we allow our kids to participate in sports again, let's not ignore the recent cases in which Major League Baseball teams have been hit with several cases.

It spread like wildfire on the Clemson and Louisiana State college football teams.

Eight staffers prepping for President Trump's rally last weekend and two Secret Service agents have tested positive.

Crowds remain unsafe for all of us. Many states that have relaxed social distancing guidelines in recent weeks are seeing significant upticks in infection rates.

We're all suffering from COVID-19 fatigue, none more so than families who have lost love ones or ministered to people who have fallen ill or the medical personnel who have treated them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

If you haven't been touched directly by the virus -- if you haven't lost a friend or your livelihood in the process -- you're probably a little less careful than you once were. It's understandable.

The progress we've made to tamp the disease down is impressive. Illinois has had some of the most restrictive rules, but that's because it is the only state that has followed all of the advice of the Centers For Disease Control.

Let's not waste all that effort now.

In the words of Sgt. Phillip Esterhaus from the TV show "Hill Street Blues," let's be careful out there.

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