Dear Illinois: With Phase 4 coming, please don't be like Florida

Dear Illinois: With Phase 4 coming, please don't be like Florida

Although there are states other than Florida that are on the rise with Covid-19 cases, I have been residing here for the past 10 weeks. I’ve seen first hand why the cases have risen to record breaking levels. I am returning to Illinois this week and praying that the phase 4 reopening does not lead us to what is happening down here.

In mid-April we made the temporary move to our place in Florida. We were afraid of the rapid rise in Illinois and with Florida being nearly double the size of our home state, it seemed a safer place to be. We are on the West coast, away from the original madness of the Miami area. Our businesses were shut down, it seemed like a good thing to do. At the time.

Our place here is in a very small gated community. We have isolated ourselves almost completely. We pick up groceries curbside, we do not go to restaurants (even outside), we do not go shopping or any other activity that would put us at risk.¬†We tried an outdoor place and when we had to use the restroom and go inside we were shocked. The place was full to capacity and not a single person other than a server wore a mask. So, we said never again. Just¬†because literally everything is open doesn’t mean that we will partake. I am sincerely hoping that Illinoisans will be smart now that the state will enter phase 4.

The reason that Florida is spiking is simple: few follow the rules. Masks are not required in numerous places. In the beginning we saw them but as time has gone by we realized that it just doesn’t seem important to the general population. When we drive down the Main Street in our downtown area, restaurants are packed outside. Tables are right next to each other. Although the waitstaff are wearing masks, many of them have them down under their noses, completely nullifying the purpose. It’s as though there is no virus – and look what is happening.

As we scramble to get out of here we are concerned about Illinois entering the next phase of reopening. The state has done an excellent job in reducing the spread, much to the chagrin of many people. A lot have criticized the Governor for his stance – I applaud him. Cook County was the worst in the country, now our daily cases pale in comparison to other states. While we have roughly 600-700 cases a day, Florida just saw a one day total of over 5,000. Think about how many people those 5,000 have been in contact with.

What will people do now that restaurants will open indoors? Bars? We saw in Wisconsin bars packed to the gills without a single person wearing a mask or social distancing. Are we going to see that in Illinois? Will restaurants follow the capacity rules? Will everyone wear a mask? Will gatherings of 50 people or less actually practice social distancing and wear masks, particularly when indoors?

It’s a simple equation. Masks have been proven to stop the spread. Staying a safe distance apart has been proven to stop or slow the spread. As Illinois moves into the next phase, will people suddenly forget these rules? They have here in Florida and other states such as Texas. My daughter lives in Austin; as of today the state is re-closing bars and reducing restaurant capacity. Apparently people just can’t follow the rules. Let’s not be those people.

Many of my small business clients are following the rules and seeing good results with them. They are able to do business and people (for the most part) are happy to help. With Illinois having waited longer than other states to enter this phase, why ruin it with stupidity and ignoring rules? If we all stick together and follow the new normal guidelines, we can safely move forward and start to enjoy our lives again. If not? It will be inevitable that we will see spikes in cases and start moving backwards. I for one want to resume my life, my work. I want to safely see my kids and not worry if I hug them.

As I’ve been saying for months now, do your part. Stop making a mask a political statement. Pay attention to the rules. Stick to safety measures in this new phase as you would have before. Let’s continue to move forward. Don’t you want to see a light at the end of this tunnel?

I sure do, so please don’t spoil it.



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