Stage 5: what were we thinking?

The state opened too much too quickly, and now we are paying the price


Jayla Cromwell, Staff member

Take a mental trip back to late March of this year. The fear and anxiety that arose from the arrival of COVID-19 in Marion County. Students are out of school for the year, many have lost jobs, and others are facing the worst consequence of this virus: the loss of a loved one. It seemed like we were all in a horror movie. We took the right steps in March to combat this virus, so what was the difference this time? We need to go back to protecting lives and slow down the reopening process in Marion County. If not for the protection of yourself, do it for the protection of the ones you love and care about.
Reopening in Marion County happened faster than it needed to, and we let it, which only made the virus spread even faster. On Nov. 13, 2020, the state of Indiana added 5,708 new cases of COVID-19 with 941 of those cases contributed by Marion County alone. These are all time high numbers for not only Indiana, but Marion County as well. There were never these many numbers in the early days of COVID-19. In the stages leading up to Stage 5, we were still having increased positive cases and death, but not as much as we have had in Stage 5 . That should have told us that we are doing something wrong, that we were not moving forward but that we were moving backwards in our efforts to keep people protected from this virus. We have adapted to living in a world consumed by COVID-19 that we did not even see the damage it has caused to our state.
We all want this to be over, but we were not taking the right steps to do so in Stage 5. We should not have been moving up in the reopening process, but we should have paused at the right time. As of Nov. 12, the state of Indiana is in Stage 5. This stage includes restaurants and bars opening at full capacity, assisted facilities must let visitors in, gyms opening up at full capacity, and other restrictions that have been lifted as well. These restrictions should not have been lifted this early in the reopening process. But maybe Indiana will do something right this time with news of placing restrictions in Marion County again. But starting Nov. 16, things will look how it did in the early stages of reopening in Marion County. Many restrictions are being put in place such as 25% capacity rules in indoor capacities, 50% capacity in restaurants, and 25% capacity in fitness centers. This is what we should be happy to see, leadership in combating this horrible and ugly virus.
Opening up to Stage 5 was one of the worst decisions the state of Indiana could have made, and that Marion County followed. Why would we ever want to increase the chance of putting people at risk? The nursing homes and assisted living facilities were once off limits in the earlier stages of reopening, with Stage 5, visitors were being allowed into assisted living facilities. These individuals are older people who would be affected by this virus the worst. Most older individuals have pre-existing conditions, which is one of the main groups that need to be protected in this world of COVID-19. With visiting an assisted living facility you are not only putting the one elder person at risk, you are putting all the others in that facility at risk. The risks were just too high to lift the restriction of visitation in assisted living facilities. As someone who lives with an older individual, the risks are just too high to just let anyone come near or in contact with someone in a risk group. But now on the bright side Marion County is finally taking these considerations into effect. With the new Marion County order residents of Marion County are now required to have a negative COVID-19 test no more than 72 hours before a planned visit to assisted living facilities.
No indoor facilities should have ever been opened back up to 100% capacity. With cases rising more and more each day what sense did it make to risk the chance of a super spread at a place operating at 100%.
Reopening would not be so bad if we just did it the right way and did not attempt to rush the reopening process. We solved some issues that the virus caused like unemployment and a low economy, but we did not resolve the most important issue which is protecting Hoosier lives. Marion County has failed 814 residents through their handle of the coronavirus. 800 lives have been lost through the mishandling of COVID-19.
Schools did not need to and should not have opened this fall. In the spring when the virus was in full swing, schools switched to virtual classrooms. Students and teachers learned through trial and error how to work in this new virtual world. With the trails and errors we learned, students got through it as well as teachers. It is not the most ideal or easiest thing but everyone managed. With students and teachers having a whole semester in the spring and now basically another semester this fall with the hybrid schedule, we have learned how to work with virtual learning. Schools never needed to open their doors to students and staff. Everything could’ve stayed virtual.
People are losing jobs and money due to the severity of this virus. The economy went downhill and it seemed as though that is all some people were worried about. It is the sad truth, human lives are less valued in some people’s eyes. We did not have to open up to Stage 5 to work on our economy. Efforts in adapting to this current COVID-19 world could have worked wonders on workers and the economy.
With winter months coming upon us, Dr. Anthony Fauci, leading infectious disease expert, warned the country of the dangers that these months will bring to Americans. Marion County is now taking the right steps to combat the dangerous rising cases of COVID-19. It should not have taken this long to realize Stage 5 was a bad call, but at least now they have seen what Stage 5 has done to Marion County. There seems to have been a sigh of relief for Marion County residents who want to help stop the spread of this horrible virus. We as residents of Marion County need to help out as much as we can in the efforts to attack COVID-19. Let us hold our government accountable. Make it known to them the horrible mistake they made with reopening to Stage 5 and how they now can make it better with the steps they are now taking.