City Council, community do the right things to prevent COVID-19 spread

Letter to the editor

On Monday evening, our Brookings City Council unanimously passed an ordinance prohibiting various business operations, aimed at curbing community transmission of COVID-19. As a physician and concerned community member, I applaud this important action. As we all know by now, effective social distancing is the most important tool we currently have to mitigate a potential health disaster in our own community and across the country.

Even before the passing of a city ordinance, various Brookings businesses had voluntarily closed their doors. In the last week, I have seen our favorite restaurants, dental offices, and fitness centers making very difficult business decisions to do what is best for the greater community. According to the Brookings Register’s reporting on the City Council meeting, the ordinance was even amended to include salons, barber shops, and spas, at the urging of some worried citizen salon workers.

For this, I am so proud of our community. The sacrifices we are all making are testing, I know, but they are the only way to decrease the impact this pandemic will have on our population. As a concerned physician I have spent the last couple weeks envisioning worst case scenarios, and the truth is there is no city in the United States, or anywhere for that matter, that can be prepared for a worst case scenario. Social distancing is our best and only shot, and it will only work if we are all in it together. Lives – the lives of your neighbors – are literally at stake.

How long will we need to socially distance? That remains to be seen. Our public health resources tell us that it takes 1-2 weeks with our current testing situation to know what is happening with infections on the ground. At the very least, I think, we want to see the rate of transmission decreasing and our capability to quickly identify new infections improve before we cautiously return to business as usual. The measure approved by our city government is a necessary step in getting us to that point.

What we – all of us – do in the coming weeks stands to make a huge difference. So please, stand behind our city government, and continue to do your part. Stay home as much as you can. Listen to all the public health advice that has taken over your news and social media. I know I will.