Recently, we learned that Washington state’s efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 have worked. While other states expect to reach peak infection in coming days, our state’s epidemiological model shows we likely reached our own peak on April 6.
Maintaining this position depends on staying the course. Passing our peak does not mean there are no new infections, nor does it mean a return to “normal.” In fact, we are entering a new and very difficult part of this process: maintaining vigilance. We must continue staying home, avoiding gatherings and changing our normal lives, even when the spring is here, sun is shining, things seem to be improving. If we stop now, the risk of undoing all of our sacrifice is very high.
Washington state was the first hit by known cases of COVID-19, and for a while we were the hardest hit. But because Gov. Jay Inslee took swift action, local jurisdictions followed quickly and the majority of residents acted responsibly, the spread of infection was slowed. Testing supplies and protective equipment our state received from official channels are still woefully inadequate. But because generous local businesses and individuals stepped up to donate, and because we stayed home and practiced social distancing quickly and effectively, we made progress.
Our quick, responsible action was crucially important. Together, we “flattened the curve” to give our medical professionals and first responders extra time to deal with this new, unknown and complicated situation. If we don’t relapse, if we stick with what we have been doing just a bit longer, we will make it possible to identify, treat and support people with COVID-19, reducing the number of deaths and the amount and severity of illness overall.
The virus and the consequences of our response are making deep impacts in our community. It will be some time yet before we are able to go back to anything we remember as normal. We in government will continue to do our best to mitigate the damage and help our community recover. But the health of our community comes first.
Because of our efforts, Clark County, we have slowed the virus down. We need to stay at it. We will be permanently changed when this is over, in ways we don’t even know now. But here’s what we do know: We’re strong – we can rebuild the economy. We’re industrious – we can get people back to work. We’re resourceful – we can adapt. But what we can’t do is bring back those who have lost their lives, or those who would lose their lives if we do not remain vigilant.
Despite catastrophic failure at the federal level, Washington state showed our nation what can be done. There is a hard road ahead when we start to transition back to a more normal existence. Please help your community by staying strong and maintaining social distance, at least for the time being. Our commitment to keep the curve flattened will help our communities and the rest of the country weather this together.
Temple Lentz is a member of the Clark County Council. She can be reached at email@example.com.