To many people, it seems as if the COVID-19 pandemic is over.

Pandemic? Schpandemic. We can go out to bars and restaurants, they say. Sure we have to wear masks and the staff has to sanitize everything, but that’s because Tom Wolf and Rachel Levine make us.

If you have kept your distance, worn a mask when close to someone and taken other precautions, you likely are safe. You might even be safe if you did none of the above and joined a protest without a mask or followed the dubious advice of a politician and felt it was OK to go to a campaign rally.

Or, maybe, just maybe, you are wrong. Maybe that one time you gathered with a group of people, someone without symptoms passed on this stubborn coronavirus to you. Or you unwittingly passed it on to someone else, someone close to you, your elderly mother, your child, and they end up in the hospital on a respirator.

We get the frustration. You were stuck in the house for the better part of three months and only went out to go to the grocery store. There you had to wear a mask as you shopped among others wearing masks and you thought, life is not supposed to be like this.

We don’t believe we should shut down again. People do have to make a living, and people do have to live, to sustain both their physical and mental well-being. We can remain open safely if people heed the advice of public health professionals.

The virus has not gone away. Our area may have been spared with low numbers of cases as compared to other parts of the state and country, but the virus has shown it could spread pretty quickly, as it has in some of the Southern states. It could come back here.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported last week there were more than 2.2 million COVID-19 cases in the United States, more than 27,000 of them new. More than 120,000 people have died from the virus across the country. Of those deaths, slightly more than 300 were new on Monday.

In Pennsylvania, there were more than 82,000 cases and more than 6,400 deaths from the virus as the week began, according to the CDC.

It’s still out there, but we can control it, and bring our economy back if we continue to follow the safety guidelines.

Wear your mask, even though it’s warm and makes it hard to breathe. Wash your hands, sanitize surfaces, observe social distancing.

Don’t be that guy or that woman who feels the government is taking away your rights. You wear a seat belt, right? You don’t smoke in public indoor places where it is not allowed, correct? That’s not a nanny government trying to keep you from hurting yourself. While such rules are there to protect you, they also are there to protect others.

If you don’t wear a mask in public places because you don’t worry about becoming infected, think about others you may protect from ending up on a respirator when you wear a mask.

NOTE: Opinions expressed in The Daily Item’s editorials are the consensus of the publisher, top newsroom executives and community members of the editorial board. Today’s was written by Digital Editor Dave Hilliard and Danville News Editor Joe Sylvester.

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