Editorial: COVID responses should continue as we reopen

Island County residents have taken the response to the pandemic seriously.

That shouldn’t end now that things are gradually changing and the local economy reopening.

People have been looking out for one another. They have been incredibly generous in supporting organizations that help health care workers, first responders, food banks and other many worthy causes.

People have taken seriously social distancing. Most people wear their masks. A run on soap and hand sanitizer in the early days of the pandemic indicate people are washing their hands, or at least sanitizing. Some of the markets are wiping down your cart before you grab the handle. Plexiglass is rising between employees and customers, providing some sense of safety.

When Island County Public Health asked residents without COVID-19 symptoms to volunteer to be tested, they literally lined up. Safely inside their cars, that is. More than 600 people showed up at an Oak Harbor testing spot in one day to be swabbed.

People were upset when the county ran out of test kits.

The results showed that the dedication to following the rules has worked. More than 2,600 people were tested last week and none of the results were positive. There’s nobody at the hospital with the virus. The only positive result in the last two weeks is a Camano Island resident who was tested in another county.

County officials won approval to move into Phase II of the Governor’s Safe Start reopening plan earlier than many other counties, which means most businesses can now reopen with restrictions.

This is all good news, but it does not mean the virus is gone from Island County, especially with tourist season upon us. Visitors are beginning to return to Whidbey in large numbers.

County officials considered this influx of visitors when they kept camping closed on the island, knowing that campgrounds in adjacent counties are still closed.

Island County Public Health advises people to continue wearing cloth masks in public when social distancing measures cannot be maintained. Keep washing your hands. Think about the health of others, not just yourself.

Continue being kind to one another. Don’t call the cops or public health if you think someone isn’t following the rules. Don’t start a fight. The county advises that community members who wish to report a business in potential violation of Phase II orders should submit comments to the governor’s website.

And please support your local businesses, now more than ever.

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