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Fine Line: Preserve lives and our freedoms

Each day, on both sides of the Ohio River, residents await the briefing from their governor. They want to know what about their daily lives will change this time.

It is a bit unnerving, this slow tightrope walk with the total shutdown that may be necessary to stop the spread of COVID-19 on one side, and the protection of our constitutional freedoms (and economy) on the other.

Certainly Gov. Jim Justice must be wondering, having announced over the weekend even stricter orders for six West Virginia counties, whether he will eventually have to extend them to the entire state. Kanawha, Monongalia, Harrison, Jefferson, Berkeley and Morgan counties are now required to limit gatherings to a maximum of five people, and to have ALL employees work from home “to the maximum extent possible.”

The order also directs local health departments to establish the maximum occupancy of and proper social distance within essential businesses and taking action to enforce these health regulations; the West Virginia National Guard to provide logistical support and services to assist county agencies; the West Virginia State Police to assist with enforcement of local county orders.

Among the reasons such action is necessary is that human beings, it seems, simply cannot all be trusted to use common sense and do the right thing. A little bit of gorgeous spring weather and they are gathering in large, close groups and crowding the stores as though the guidelines no longer apply.

It is tempting to ask our state governments to just rip off the bandage already — issue the strictest orders necessary to protect the public health, for everybody, now. The incremental approach can be frustrating.

But give the governor credit for understanding it is as important now as ever to avoid the kind of state action the leaders of some countries have no qualms about implementing.

Meanwhile, follow the orders that are in place. If you believe stricter action should be taken, take it yourself. Encourage others to do the same. If enough of us behave the way we know we should during this pandemic, perhaps lives AND freedoms can be preserved.

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